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Print - The West India Flower Girl
  • The West India Flower Girl
    Brunias, Agostino, born 1730 - died 1796
  • Enlarge image

The West India Flower Girl

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (published)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Brunias, Agostino, born 1730 - died 1796 (artist)
    Ruotte, Louis Charles, born 1754 - died 1806 (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stipple engraving

  • Museum number:

    E.22397:72-1957

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case O, shelf 5, box A

Much as other European artists sought to capture the details of the flora and fauna of new territorial possessions in the 18th century, so the Italian artist Agostino Brunias sought to record the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the West Indies. Brunias was born in Rome in 1730. Whilst working in England for the architect Robert Adam as a draughtsman and decorative artist, Brunias met William Young who, in 1764, was nominated the first Commissioner and Receiver for sale of lands in the ceded (from France) West Indies islands of Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada and Tobago. Brunias agreed to accompany Young to the West Indies as his personal artist.

Brunias spent seven years in the West Indies creating romantic genre scenes of markets, village and harbour scenes. Brunias’s treatment of his human subjects reflects that of artists recording natural history specimens: every aspect of dress and accessory is captured in exhaustive detail yet the figures appear as ‘types’ rather than individuals. Dress is used as the marker of particular colonial identities encountered on the islands: Carib, Black Carib, mulatto, slave, freedman, and planter. Brunias’s romanticised images of island life, which denied the harsh realities of plantation slavery, were popular with members of the white plantocracy, both in the West Indies and in Britain. This image is an engraved copy by the French artist Louis Charles Ruotte.

Physical description

Print depicts a group of women: a black woman in madras check headscarf and shawl with her back to the viewer, who holds a dish of flowers, a white woman in the centre and darker-skinned woman on the right who smells a flower. The latter two women wear elaborate headgear. To the left of the group, a black boy sits on a step.

Place of Origin

Paris (published)

Date

ca. 1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Brunias, Agostino, born 1730 - died 1796 (artist)
Ruotte, Louis Charles, born 1754 - died 1806 (engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Stipple engraving

Marks and inscriptions

THE WEST INDIA FLOWER GIRL. LA BOUQUETIERE DES INDES OCCIDENTAL
This Plate is dedicated to Sir Patk. Blake Bart by his most obliged and devoted Servt.
A. Brunias
A Paris, chez Depeville, Rue St Denis. La boutique attenant J. Jacques l'hopital No. 416 Gran Palais Royal au Pavillon.

Bottom left:
A. Brunias pinxit
Lettered with title in English and French, a dedication to Sir Patrick Blake, Bart. And A.

Dimensions

Height: 32.6 cm, Width: 25.7 cm

Object history note

(Original Brunias painting (ca. 1769) now at the Yale Centre for British Art)
Accession register entry: 14 January 1958, 21193-23053-1957, (Rpp 56/1603). Source: Worth Ltd. In Association with Paquin Ltd., 50, Grosvenor Street, London, W1.
Ruotte, Louis Charles (1754-p.1814)
The West India Flower Girl
Lettered with title in English and French, a dedication to Sir Patrick Blake, Bart. And A. Brunias pinxit. L.C. Routte direxit. A Paris, chez Depeuille rue St. Denis, la Boutique attenant St. Jacques, l'hopital, No. 416, & au Palais Royal, au Pavilion.
Stipple engraving. 12 ¼ x 9 3/8. Given by the House of Worth.

Descriptive line

'The West India Flower Girl', by Ruotte after Agostino Brunias [Augustin Brunais]

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Hats

Categories

Black History; Prints

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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