The Exploration of AfricaBook - 2003
Though the mouth of the Congo river was discovered by Portuguese explorers in 1483, much of the African continent remained terra incognita until the eighteenth century, when merchants and arms traders opened trade routes within the continent. In 1871, the journey of journalist Henry Morton Stanley to rescue the explorer David Livingstone captured the public imagination and sparked a craze for African art and artifacts. After the continent was partitioned by the Berlin Conference of 1885, school textbooks featured edifying images of African natives and makers of commercial goods used stereotyped portrayals of natives in their advertisements, belying the fact that, deep within the continent, rapacious profiteers were turning the jungles into the “heart of darkness” that Joseph Conrad documented.
The Exploration of Africa offers the unique opportunity to share the sights and impressions of the actual explorers—both in their words and with photographs of what they saw—and to see how their adventures resonated in the public imagination, with reproductions of the art and ephemera, newspaper and magazine illustrations, that were inspired by them.