Black Caribs Sign Treaty with British Military, St. Vincent, West Indies, 1773

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This record was last updated on 30 May 2016

Image Reference

Bryan Edwards, The History . . . of the British Colonies in the West Indies (London, 1801), vol. 1, facing p. 529. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Caption in Edwards, "Pacification with the Maroon Negroes"; shows a group of men laying down their arms in front of British army officers. The place is not identified on the engraving, but because it was published in Edwards --who discusses the Jamaican Maroon wars at length-- this scene is often associated with 1739 and 1740 treaties signed between the British and Maroons in Jamaica. However, the original painting from which the engraving derives was done by Agostino Brunias and most probably depicts the end in 1773 of the First Carib War on St. Vincent, when a treaty was signed between the British and the Black Caribs, whose major chiefs are shown in the painting/engraving. The engraving has also been used to illustrate Maroon confrontations in Dominica and, as noted above, Jamaica. Brunias (sometimes incorrectly spelled Brunyas, Brunais), a painter born in Italy in 1730, came to England in 1758 where he became acquainted with William Young. Young had been appointed to a high governmental post in West Indian territories acquired by Britain from France, and in late 1764 Brunias accompanied Young to the Caribbean as his personal artist. Arriving in early 1765, Brunias stayed in the islands until around 1775, when he returned to England (exhibiting some of his paintings in the late 1770s) and visited the continent. He returned to the West Indies in 1784 and remained there until his death on the island of Dominica in 1796. Although Brunias primarily resided in Dominica he also spent time in St. Vincent, and visited other islands, including Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts, and Tobago. See Lennox Honychurch, "Chatoyer's Artist: Agostino Brunias and the Depiction of St Vincent," for an extended discussion of this illustration in what is presently the most informative and balanced discussion of Brunias and his romanticized and idyllic paintings of West Indian scenes and slave life (Jl of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, vol. 50 [2004], pp.104-128); see also Hans Huth, Agostino Brunias, Romano (The Connoisseur, vol. 51 [Dec. 1962], pp. 265-269). The National Library of Jamaica catalog also states that the illustration shown here depicts a scene in St. Vincent (Kenneth Bilby, pers. comm.). The catalog of the Nicholas M. Williams Collection (Boston College, 1932) holds a colored engraving of this image with the entry, "Pacifications with the Maroon Negroes, by Scott from a painting by Agostino Brunyas. London, 1801." Compare images of Black Caribs shown here with those in image reference Bilby-4.