The Busts of Africans at Caputh House
Originally, the busts of four Black men and women were part of the sculptural decoration in the First Rondel at Sanssouci Park. The images were probably created by Italian artists in the second half of the 17th or beginning of the 18th century. For preservation reasons, they are no longer displayed outdoors today, but stand at Caputh House instead. There, in the 17th century, a sculptural portrait of an African person, in the collection of Electress Dorothea, which has not come down to us, had been the most valuable object in the entire house. The busts came about during the time of Brandenburg’s colonial activities on the west coast of Africa in what is now known as Ghana.
It is not known whether the four busts depict real Africans. They wear garments in the antique fashion and seem rather idealized. Their faces, however, are certainly lifelike, despite their eyes having no pupils. Apparently, the busts had been created as couples.
On the history of the busts and their colonial context, see First Rondel.