Merry and contented slaves and other island myths
Representing Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Anglo-American world
in Colouring the Caribbean
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This chapter considers Agostino Brunias's portrayal of presumably enslaved dark-skinned Africans and Afro-Creoles. It evaluates Brunias's depictions of Africans and Afro-Creoles in light of the work of George Robertson and Isaac Mendes Belisario, two artists working in the colonial West Indies to whom Brunias is often compared. Robertson creates a mythic, ahistorical Arcadian landscape that disguises the colonial power that it implicitly supports. Brunias paints a definitively colonial space that underscores the merger of Africa and Europe. The chapter discusses Brunias's Handkerchief Dance on the Island of Dominica relative to two examples from North America, an unknown artist's eighteenth-century watercolour known as Plantation Scene and Christian Mayr's Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs. In Robertson's work, the presence of black-skinned figures identifies Jamaica as part of the British colonial world even though the conventions of the artist's chosen aesthetic preclude any real evidence of the labour that necessitates this presence.

Colouring the Caribbean

Race and the art of Agostino Brunias


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