Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Fleshing Out SurfacesSkin in French Art and Medicine, 1650-1850$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Mechthild Fend

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087967

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087967.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

Skin colour

Skin colour

(p.143) 5 Skin colour
Fleshing Out Surfaces

Mechthild Fend

Manchester University Press

This chapter shows that the notion of skin colour emerged only gradually since the sixteenth century and became a prominent marker of race in conjunction with the development of racial anthropology during the Enlightenment. The colour of a person used to be perceived as body colour and often referred to as complexion, a term linked to the ancient medical theory of the four humours and temperaments. The artistic making and mixing of flesh tones was closely linked to humoral theory. By the eighteenth century most anatomist interested in the microscopic structure of skin agreed that the body's colouring matter – later called pigment – resides in an outer layer of the skin. This was demonstrated in an early medical illustration by Jan Admiral made for a Bernard Albinus‘ anatomical treatise on the colour of the skin. Interestingly, the print also uses a new technique of colour printing, and the argument is that skin colour is simultaneously an artistic, technical and medical problem in this colour mezzotint. Finally, an analysis of Girodet's Portrait of Belley and Benoist's Portrait d'une negresse suggests that skin colour is both a political and representational problem in these portraits painted shortly after the French Revolution.

Keywords:   anatomy of skin, colour print, Enlightenment, French Revolution, pigment, race, skin coulour, Albinus, Bernard Siegfried, Benoist, Marie-Guillemine, Girodet, Anne-Louis

Manchester Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.