Victor Ekpuk’s “Union of Saint and Venus”

february, 2023

01feb9:00 am28(feb 28)5:30 pmVictor Ekpuk’s "Union of Saint and Venus”9:00 am - 5:30 pm (28) 1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560Event Type :Art,Artist,Arts Organization,On Going

Event Details

The Union of Saint and Venus was created in response to the exhibition Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe that was on view at the Walters Museum in Baltimore in 2012. According to Ekpuk, the painting “was inspired by the portrait of Alessandro de Medici, also known as il Moro (“the Moor”), the black Duke of Florence and Penne (1530-1537). He is rumored to have been born out of a relationship between Pope Clement VII from the Medici family and a black slave woman, Simonetta da Collevecchio.”In the painting, two of the pope’s golden croziers, or staffs, are literally translated into a symbolic phallus that penetrates, or more specifically rapes, the figure of Sarah Baartman. Baartman (c. 1770s-1815) was a South African Khoikhoi woman who was exhibited in Europe in the early 19th century as a medical oddity because of her large buttocks and given the moniker the “Hottentot Venus.” After her death her body was dissected and her brain, skeleton and genitals were displayed at public museums in Paris for over a century. Her remains were not returned to South Africa until 2002. Baartman’s violated body is also symbolizes the continent of Africa.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture



1 (Wednesday) 9:00 am - 28 (Tuesday) 5:30 pm


National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560