Funeral of a European, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831

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This record was last updated on 02 May 2012

Image Reference

Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate ix, fig. 16. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

The funeral procession of an important/wealthy European. The procession is preceded and followed by slaves; two hold umbrellas over the chief mourners. When a rich person dies, Benoit writes, "his coffin is carried by a dozen blacks. Family and friends follow, dressed in black. Their heads are covered with a sort of hat that entirely hides their face; a black veil is attached to the coffin and the slaves who walk behind each one carry a large green umbrella over the heads of the persons who accompany the coffin" (p. 23). Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.