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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Offering of the Day: A Collection of Original Watercolours of Jamaica

Inger Maria Burton (1828-1897).
Original Watercolours of Jamaica.
May 1860 - May 1862.

Provenance: The Severn Family of Penybont Hall, Radnorshire (cousins of the artist), and thence by descent; Mellors & Kirk, Nottingham, 25-26th September 2008, lot 803.

20 fine original watercolours of views in and around southeastern Jamaica, varying sizes all on Whatman paper, many watermarked “J WHATMAN TURKEY MILL 1844”, unsigned, but each numbered and captioned by the artist in pencil on the verso as below (some staining to verso from previous mountings).

These charming and accomplished views, painted almost exactly 100 years before Jamaica achieved independence, depict the coast and Blue Mountain region in and around St. Andrew’s near Newcastle in Jamaica under colonial rule. Burton was probably the wife of an officer or perhaps clergyman stationed at the English barracks (est. 1799) at Stony Hill in the early 1860s.

After the English succeeded the Spanish in occupying Jamaica in 1655, it quickly  become a favourite haven for privateers, buccaneers, and occasionally outright pirates: most famously Christopher Myngs, Edward Mansvelt, and, Henry Morgan. But the cultivation of sugar cane and coffee by imported African slave labour made Jamaica one of the most valuable possessions in the world for more than 150 years. After the abolition of slavery in 1834 throughout the British Empire the Jamaican slaves remained bound to their former owners' service, albeit with a guarantee of rights, until 1838 under what was called the Apprenticeship System. The freed population still faced significant hardships, and there were frequent uprisings, most significantly that of October 1865, known as the Morant Bay rebellion led by Paul Bogle. It was brutally repressed by the English troops, including those stationed at Stony Hill, and quite possibly by Burton’s husband.

In the latter half of the 19th-century sugar cane was supplemented by bananas as the most lucrative crop, and in 1866 the Jamaican legislature renounced its powers, and the country became a crown colony.

Two illustrations. Contact me for more images at grahamarader@gmail.com 

Inger Maria Burton (1828-1897).
Number 18
View from underneath a trellised logia looking out over Blue Mountains, maybe Ropley.
12 x 12 inches
Original Watercolour of Jamaica
May 1860 - May 1862.

Inger Maria Burton (1828-1897).
Number 22
Stony Hill Jamaica, Officer’s Quarters & Hospital, May 4th 1860
11 2/8 x 8 inches
Original Watercolour of Jamaica.
May 1860 - May 1862.

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