Can you find the white woman in this picture?
Brunias’s ‘ladies’ of ambiguous race
in Colouring the Caribbean
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This chapter argues that while Agostino Brunias's paintings were meant to contribute to the natural history discourse and to the visualisation of social and racial classification in the Caribbean in practice, they potentially function in an entirely different and complicated way. In 1983, Christie's offered a group of Brunias paintings at an auction of 'Important English Pictures'. Included among these was a work that the auction house referred to as Two Ladies Attended by a Negro Servant. The chapter looks at Brunias's work differently from other scholars, using his depiction of ambiguously raced women to consider how the artist's images might be understood to challenge the idea of racial categories as they work to support them. Like casta paintings and ethnographic images, other colonial artwork that sought to make order of the 'new' peoples of the so-called New World typically depended on the use of text.

Colouring the Caribbean

Race and the art of Agostino Brunias


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