Market Women, Paramaribo, Suriname, ca. 1831


Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate x, fig. 18. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)


The image shows three market women or retailers of various dry goods with wood trays on their heads. From left to right, a crèole, a black creole ( negresse-crèole ) and a cabougle or African; in the background, cake sellers. The man clad in a loincloth appears to be a slave, but it is unclear what he is doing. 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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