A Paris art gallery renames paintings to focus on their black subjects

The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has just opened an exhibition entitled ‘Le modèle noir De Géricault à Matisse,’ which attempts to restore the identities and perspectives of black figures depicted on canvas but largely written out of history. This article from the Washington Post focuses on one artwork in the exhibition. The painting by Marie-Guillemine Benoist has hung in the Louvre for decades under the title ‘Portrait of a black woman.’ In the new exhibition, the subject of the painting is named – it is entitled ‘Portrait of Madeleine’ because it is a portrait of an emancipated, formerly enslaved woman from Guadeloupe who worked in the home of the artist’s brother-in-law.  The exhibition addresses France’s role in the slave trade and the manifestation of the debate over slavery in the arts of the period.

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Marie-Guillemine Benoist, ‘Portrait d’une femme noire’ (1800), © Musée du Louvre

For more – click here for the Washington post article  and here for the exhibition website.

 

 

The Irish in Latin America: An exhibition

In February this year, Irish President Michael D. Higgins opened an exhibition in Havana, Cuba celebrating the role of Irish immigrants in Latin America and highlighting shared aspects of  Ireland and Latin America’s histories. The exhibition is curated by historian Margaret Brehony. Follow this link to the website for the Society for Irish Latin American Studies. The page includes the exhibition guide, and a further link to President Higgins’ speech in Havana.

The Irish in Latin America Exhibition

 

Review of the British Museum’s ‘A Revolutionary Legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture’

For those lucky enough to be in London, the British Museum’s exhibition on Haiti and Toussaint is on for a couple more weeks. But before you make the trip to the Museum, you might want to read this exhibition review by Tabitha McIntosh, a research student who works on revolutionary Haiti. McIntosh is unimpressed by the Museum’s efforts in this exhibition, but argues that the “jumble of objects…demonstrates for visitors rather more than the Museum intended: that most of the material history of revolutionary Haiti is scattered around the globe and buried in the archives, institutions, and private collections of the Atlantic powers that vied—and vie—for dominance of the Caribbean.” The review is definitely worth a read!

 

 

 

Black History Month UK: Links

As Black History Month kicked off in the UK this week, my twitter feed has featured some fascinating research and writing about Britain’s black history. I’ll update this page as the month progresses with links to articles, historians, writers etc which contribute to getting Britain’s black history out in the public domain.

 

Melissa Bennett, UK-based historian of the Caribbean and photography – check out her Instagram blog

English Heritage has uncovered the identities of 2,500 Afro-Caribbean prisoners of war kept at Portchester Castle in England. This website tells the story of the prisoners’ transportation and life at Portchester.

Fay Young’s article on Sceptical Scot about Black History Month in Scotland

Black History Month in the UK

100 Great Black Britons relaunches for 2017

 

Black History Month in the UK

Black History Month in the United Kingdom runs during October. The ‘official’ website for the Month has information about the thousands of events planned across the UK. The ‘features’ tab of the website has many articles about aspects of black history, and opinion pieces. Click here for the Black History Month site.

I also noticed that David Olusoga’s book Black and British: A Forgotten History is available in ebook format for only 99p for the month (I believe only for UK customers): click here for details.

Ending Indenture in the British Empire: the ‘quiet abolition’

It’s a century since indenture, the system which immediately replaced slavery in parts of the former British Empire, was ended. Dr Maria del Pilar Kaladeen has been working on a number of events to commemorate the centenary of the abolition of indenture in the British Empire—as she has termed it ‘the quiet abolition.’ Quiet because it’s been a challenge to engage the public with this commemoration, as the history of indenture has been so little known.

See Dr del Pilar Kaladeen’s blogpost here – there are links from there to her research and to an exhibition she curated in London, as well as to a conference to be held next week at Senate House in London.

 

Framing Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Portraiture at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne

This is an excellent article about the way that the curators at the Musée de l’Histoire de Nantes have displayed the portraits of Dominique and Marguerite Deurbroucq—and in particular, the way that the curators draw museum-goers’ attention to the enslaved Africans depicted in the portraits.

Age of Revolutions

By Nathan H. Dize

In May 2015, theMusée de l’Histoire de Nantes welcomed two of their most influential citizens of the eighteenth century to their permanent collection. The museum, housed in the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, received two portraits – one of Dominique Deurbroucq and the other of his wife Marguerite – both of which feature prominently in the main exhibition on Atlantic slavery and the slave trade in Nantes. Painted in 1753 by Pierre-Bernard Morlot, the Deurbroucqs are portrayed in all of the luxe of the century, accompanied by their domestic slaves who lived with them in Nantes.  I recently visited the collection and was particularly interested in the framing of these two portraits within the narrative of the tran-Atlantic slave trade and the history of Nantes.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 10.55.21 AM Pierre-Bernard Morlot, Portraits des Deurbroucq, 1753. (Photo credit to Nathan H. Dize)

For museums, memorial sites, and monuments, context…

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“The Paradise of the World:” conflict and society in the Caribbean

While doing some background research on the indigenous people of St.Vincent, I came across a great online exhibition on the King’s College London website. “The Paradise of the World:” conflict and society in the Caribbean” was originally held at KCL in 2011, but is now available as an online exhibition. This is such a great way to share resources and information—I love seeing exhibitions migrate from the real world to the online arena so that researchers can make use of the content for years afterwards.

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‘Chatoyer, the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St Vincent with his five wives,’ from Bryan Edwards, The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies (London, 1807).

The exhibition drew largely upon the holdings of the historical library collection of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and explored the history of the Caribbean region from the sixteenth century to 1900. Because the exhibition is based on British documentation and literature, the exhibition clearly approaches the Caribbean form the perspective of British interaction with the region. The exhibition provides an overview of Britain’s relationship with Spain as it relates to the Caribbean, international rivalry, the sugar trade and revolts and revolution in Jamaica and Haiti. and the development of the sugar industry and trade. In relation to indigenous peoples in the Caribbean (which is how I stumbled across the exhibition), there is a very good overview of indigenous peoples of Guyana and St.Vincent as well as some material on Jacques Du Tetre’s interaction with indigenous people in the region and his writings. Finally, the exhibition covers emancipation, and nineteenth century Caribbean colonial life.

This exhibition would be very useful for introductory research on the Caribbean (particularly the British Caribbean), and it includes a number of primary sources such as books, artwork and documentation which are available online. Click here to go to the KCL exhibition.

 

Making Jamaica: Photography from the 1890s

A collection of more than 70 historical photographs go on display later this month  in a free exhibition at Rivington Place in London. ‘Making Jamaica’ explores how a new image of Jamaica was created through photography in the 1890s. The images are being exhibited in London for the first time, and are drawn from the Caribbean Photo Archive. If you’re in London and get to the exhibition, please report back! It looks well worth visiting.

 

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Jamaica Boys—Brown & Dawson, c.1890. Caribbean Photo Archive.

This is a link to the exhibition details: Making Jamaica  and this is a link to a recent article about the exhibition in the Guardian, which includes a gallery of some of the photographs: Gallery