Washing and Ironing Clothes, Suriname, ca. 1831
Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate xvii, fig. 34. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)
Three women washing clothes at a tub (left), and two others, one carrying her infant on her back, ironing (right). In Suriname, the author writes, the washerwomen are almost always black, and they achieve a degree of perfection that is rarely surpassed elsewhere (p. 22). 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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