Shoemakers, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831


Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate xvi, fig. 33. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)


A shoemaker is measuring a free black man for a pair of shoes (right); the man on left, a slave (presumably the shoemaker's assistant), is making shoes. According to Benoit only free people of color have the right to wear shoes (p. 21). In the center, an elderly woman spins cotton using a spindle. 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.


Benoit, Pierre Jacques

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