Drawing of the day: a Capuchin missionary burning an idol house (Kongo, 1740s)

Source: Missione in prattica: Padri cappucini ne Regni di Congo, Angola, et adiacenti, Bibliotheca civica centrale, Torino, MS 457. Image courtesy of the Biblioteca civica centrale, Torino, Italy.

Source: Missione in prattica: Padri cappucini ne Regni di Congo, Angola, et adiacenti, Bibliotheca civica centrale, Torino, MS 457. Image courtesy of the Biblioteca civica centrale, Torino, Italy.

The history of art is the history of what survives. One can only wonder of all the marvels that went lost. The above illustration, made in Sogno in the Kingdom of Kongo in the 1740s, illustrates how early the destruction of the so-called African idols started. Written and illustrated by Bernardino Ignazio di Vezza d’Asti in about 1750, this vignette was published in an early manual for Capuchin missionaries (Missione in prattica: Padri cappucini ne Regni di Congo, Angola, et adiacenti). Two other images of this manuscript are published in the exhibition catalogue of Kongo across the Waters (pp. 32-33).