Who is the Subject? Wilhelm Marstrand's Portrait of Justine Antoine and Other Images

Wilhelm Marstrand: Portrait of Otto Marstrand's two Daughters and their West Indian Nanny, Justina Antoine, 1857. SMK National Gallery of Denmark

Lecture by Dr. Temi Odumosu (Malmö University).


This talk explores what appears, what is lost, and what could be reimagined in the process of researching African and African-descendant people in the history of art. The focus is a portrait from the Danish colonial archive, representing a young woman called Justina Antoine. She was an Afro-Caribbean nanny to the Marstrand family, whose presence in the genre of Danish portraiture is rare. Her representation as a figure of interest in Danish art raises critical questions about the ways in which Black people are visualised as evidence of colonial encounters. Using the wider cultural archive to complicate our relationship to, and understanding of, her imaging, the talk reconsiders how we come to look at the past, and what we do in/with those moments of contact.


Temi Odumosu is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Malmö University. Her research and curatorial practices are concerned with colonial archives/archiving, slavery and visuality, Afro-Diaspora art, performance of memory, and ethics of care-in-representation. She is author of Africans in English Caricature 1769-1819: Black Jokes, White Humour (2017), which recently won the Historians of British Art book prize for scholarship between 1600-1800.