This article seeks to demonstrate how artistic production and discourse in the eighteenth century produced tools of observation and analysis that allowed human beings to be differentiated as well as implicitly classifed on a moral scale, an enterprise that would later veer into explicit racism. The study isolates this long, fumbling era of pictorial and pigmentary development by demonstrating how, by a visual fguration or representation, a natural element—skin color—can be manipulated synthetically to the point of providing evidence or proof of human hierarchies. It also better defnes the role played by the fne arts in the imaginary and scientifc process that embedded the category of race into that of skin color, the focus being on (supposed) white and black skin colors, as they were the main landmarks in the debates and works of art of Enlightenment dealings with race.


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pp. 89-113
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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