Toussaint Louverture, Saint Domingue (Haiti), ca. 1800

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This record was last updated on 18 Mar 2016

Image Reference

Marcus Rainsford, An historical account of the black empire of Hayti (London,1805), facing p. 241.

Rainsford, a British military officer, gives a detailed first-hand account of Louverture which formed the basis for this undoubtedly embellished portrait created for his book. Although this image of Toussaint is often reproduced in secondary works on the history of Haiti, it was not made from life and no such portrait of Louverture is known to exist. The portrait is based on Rainford's published description: "In person,Toussaint was of a manly form, above the middle stature, with a countenance bold and striking, yet full of the most prepossessing suavity--terrible to an enemy, but inviting to the objects of his friendship or his love. His manners and his deportment were elegant when occasion required, but easy and familiar in common; --when an inferior addressed him, he bent with the most obliging assiduity, and adapted himself precisely, without seeming condescension, to their peculiar circumstances. He received in public a general and voluntary respect . . . . His uniform was a kind of blue jacket, with a large red cape falling over the shoulders; red cuffs, with eight rows of lace on the arms, and a pair of large gold epaulettes thrown back; scarlet waistcoat and pantaloons, with half boots; round hat, with a red feather, and a national cockade; these, with an extreme large sword, formed his equipment. He was an astonishing horseman and travelled with inconceivable rapidity" (pp. 252-53). See also other images of Toussaint on this website.