Prussian black
March 11, 2008 10:26 AM   Subscribe

One day in 1999, Alex Sabac el Cher, a retired German textile salesman opened his door to a historian who had a painting to show him and a few questions. Preußisches Liebesglück ("Prussian love bliss"), a 1890 painting of two lovebirds, an African officer of the German imperial army and his young red-headed bride, was perhaps an allegory of (color-)blind love, but also an actual moment of happiness in the Sabac el Cher family history, that started in 1836 with the gift of a young Nubian boy nicknamed August "Good morning" to an exiled princely murderer and became interwoven with German history. Bonus: First 10 minutes (in French) of a documentary about the Sabac el Cher.
posted by elgilito (6 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating. Thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 10:45 AM on March 11, 2008

Amazing, I love these historic traces. Thanks
posted by phyrewerx at 11:22 AM on March 11, 2008

Superb post—thanks very much. I just wish that "family history" link was better translated; this exciting moment is seen through a mist of bad English:
In the beginning there was murder - In the 1840s in Prince Albrecht’s palace in Berlin. The marriage of the Prussian Prince Albrecht was on the rocks. He wanted to push his wife into a chamber. A sentry soldier screamed out of fear to be involved in an embarrassing situation.
I'm guessing "push his wife into a chamber" should be "force his wife into the bedroom," but it would be nice to know for sure.

Sabac el Cher would normally be transliterated sabāh al-kheir (sabāh 'morning,' kheir 'good').

The story is reminiscent of that of Abram Petrovich Gannibal, the African slave brought to Russia by Peter the Great who became a major-general and the great-grandfather of Pushkin (who was proud of his African ancestry).
posted by languagehat at 12:35 PM on March 11, 2008

afroancestral -- new vocabulary addition.
posted by CCBC at 2:21 PM on March 11, 2008

How did that family manage in World War II? I understand that mulattoes in Germany were sterilized by the Nazis. I don't know if there were any exceptions.
It's really amazing how social climates can change. Tolerance to intolerance and back again.
posted by millardsarpy at 2:38 PM on March 11, 2008

I really like how happy the two in the painting look, how relaxed they are with each other.

The story behind it is fascinating too.
posted by sandraregina at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2008

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