Milkmaid and Milk Sellers, Suriname, ca. 1831


Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate xxxi, fig. 66. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)


Milk and milk products, Benoit explains, are provided by elderly missies (usually free women of color and former mistresses of white men) who own cows. These women then have their milk peddled or hawked by their own slaves, young black or creole women (p. 37). 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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