Black­amoor art re­moved from Inn liv­ing room af­ter cou­ple’s com­plaint

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mccaslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

The con­tro­versy sur­round­ing “black­amoor” art has crossed the pond into Rap­pa­han­nock County — and more specif­i­cally The Inn at Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton.

Wash­ing­to­nian mag­a­zine food ed­i­tor Jes­sica Sid­man posted a story this past Mon­day head­lined, “Pa­trons Push the Inn at Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton to Re­move Ra-

cially Charged Stat­ues: The Miche­lin-starred restau­rant has been re­luc­tant to take down its ‘black­amoor’ art.”

Her ar­ti­cle re­ferred to the Inn’s pair of valu­able stat­ues de­pict­ing dark-skinned men dressed in af­flu­ent garb, a style of art that orig­i­nated in 16 century Venice. The largest of the two stat­ues is found in the Clai­borne House on Gay Street — a suite and pri­vate event venue — while the other, ac­tu­ally a bust, rested on a side­board in the Inn’s liv­ing room.

The lat­ter bust had been re­moved be­fore the Wash­ing­to­nian ar­ti­cle was pub­lished, the Rap­pa­han­nock News was told. The larger statue is de­scribed as be­ing at­tached to the stair­case of the Clai­borne House, so its re­moval would en­tail in­te­rior re­design.

The mag­a­zine re­vealed that an African-Amer­i­can cou­ple from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Nicole Dun­can and her hus­band (he de­clined to be iden­ti­fied), “hadn’t heard of black­amoor” un­til a mem­ber of the Bri­tish Royal fam­ily was crit­i­cized for wear­ing an an­tique black­amoor brooch to the queen’s Christ­mas brunch last De­cem­ber.

The cou­ple “started do­ing some re­search to learn why it can be con­sid­ered racist and of­fen­sive. They dis­cov­ered that this genre of art . . . of­ten de­picts very dark-skinned North African slaves and ser­vants dressed up in jew­els and fancy gar­ments by Euro­pean aris­to­crats try­ing to show off their wealth.

“The cou­ple re­al­ized they’d also seen black­amoor be­fore — at the Inn at Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton,” the story con­tin­ued. At which point the cou­ple com­plained to the Inn and re­quested the stat­ues be re­moved or else they would not re­turn as cus­tomers.

Not all black­amoor art is cre­ated equal, Wash­ing­to­nian pointed out, quot­ing art his­to­rian Adrienne Childs as say­ing that black­amoor can also de­pict black no­ble­men and gen­er­als. Childs doubted the bust re­moved from the Inn’s liv­ing room de­picted a slave.

The Inn had no of­fi­cial com­ment on the con­tro­versy when reached this week.

BY JOHN MCCASLIN

An an­tique black­amoor bust pho­tographed sev­eral years ago has been re­moved from the liv­ing room of the Inn at Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton.

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