Le chirurgien nègre. / Boutique d'un marchand de viande de porce. by Jean-Baptiste Debret

Le chirurgien nègre. / Boutique dun marchand de viande de porce. by Jean-Baptiste Debret

Le chirurgien nègre. / Boutique d'un marchand de viande de porce.

Jean-Baptiste Debret

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Title

Le chirurgien nègre. / Boutique d'un marchand de viande de porce.

 
Artist
Year
c. 1816 /published 1834 
Technique
hand-colored lithograph 
Image Size
10 5/8 x 8 1/2" total image size sans text 
Signature
name typset below image, left 
Edition Size
not stated; total published edition of 200 
Annotations
lithographer's name typset below image, lower right; titles of both plates engraved beneath each image 
Reference
NYPL #b10086131 
Paper
cream wove with "J.B. Debret" watermark 
State
published 
Publisher
Firmin Didot Freres, Paris 
Inventory ID
23949 
Price
$700.00 
Description

Plate 46 from Jean-Baptiste Debret's three volume Voyage pittoresque et historique au Brésil, ou Séjour d'un artiste français au Brésil, depuis 1816 jusqu'en 1831 inclusivement, epoques de l'avènement et de l'abdication de S.A.D. Pedro 1er, fondateur l'Empire brésilian ("Picturesque and Historical trip to Brazil, or, Stay of a French Artist in Brazil, from 1816 to 1831. Times of the Accession and Abdication of S.M.D. Pedro I, founder of the Brazilian Empire.) Published in an edition of 200, it was illustrated with 153 plates done after Debret's watercolors, as well as a map and portraits. The lithographs were drawn by Debret with the assistance of Viscountess Pauline de Portres; the lithographs were printed by Thierry Freres and C. Motte, and were hand-colored by Debret and others under his direction.

In March of 1816 French artist Jean-Baptiste Debret (then exiled from France to Portugal due to his loyalty to Napoleon) traveled to Brazil with the French Artistic Mission, a group of artists and artisans dedicated to creating an educational lyceum documenting the culture of the nation's capitol, Rio de Janeiro, to be housed in what would become the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes. Debret would live in Brazil until 1831, capturing the everyday lives of those within the rapidly changing city. Of particular interest to him were the relations between the European colonizers and the enslaved Africans and Indigenous Brazilians.

Through the lens of history, the works of Debret and his peers in Rio de Janeiro is understandably controversial, due in large part to their intent: to attempt to illustrate the efficacy of slavery as a means to "civilize" enslaved people. A false narrative arose in which the French artists believed they were successfully presenting the evolution of peaceable relations between the cultures, and their tone, often condescending and romanticized, belied the assumption their own superiority.

Despite the wildly incorrect assessment of the circumstances, the output of Debret and others from this time captured a bit of what no European had before: greatly detailed depictions of the daily lives of Black Brazilians outside of their relation to slaveholders. For instance, in the top image of Debret's two-panel lithograph, he depicts an African healer, titled here in the Portuguese as "le chirurgien négre" (the black surgeon) using animal horns as theraputic "cupping" tools, a treatment with roots in ancient Persia still practiced today.

The second panel depicts farmers bringing slaughtered pigs to a pork merchant, who chats with his customers. All the figures depicted in this ordinary, everyday image of townspeople going about their chores are Black, with no pretense of condescention employed by the artist - unusual for the time.

In November of 2021 Louisiana State University published Medicine and Healing in the Age of Slavery, a collection of papers from Rice University's 2018 symposium of the same name, edited by Sean Morey Smith and Christopher D.E. Willoughby. On the cover of the book is a vignette taken from the top panel of this lithograph.

 

Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email artannex@aol.com to purchase this item.