Brown-skinned booty, or colonising Diana
Mixed-race Venuses and Vixens as the fruits of imperial enterprise
in Colouring the Caribbean
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This chapter underscores the sexually charged nature of Agostino Brunias's West Indian paintings, probing in particular, the pronounced confluence of colonialism and the fetishisation of the mixed-race female body evident in these works. Like the Caribbean fruits and flowers with which the paintings identify them, they are simply rewards of the colonial enterprise. The chapter analyses two prominent eighteenth-century constructions of mixed-race female sexuality evident in Brunias's West Indian pictures: the Venus and the Vixen. In addition to the obvious references to Venus imagery, Brunias also employs the Roman myth of Actaeon and Diana as an iconographic and ideological model for the painting. Like the figures in William Blake's unquestionably imperialist and unequivocally erotic continental allegory, Brunias's brown Venuses posit an implicit analogy between female flesh and physical geography, reinforcing British power over both.

Colouring the Caribbean

Race and the art of Agostino Brunias


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