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Slavery, Sugar, and the Culture of Refinement: Picturing the British West Indies, 1700-1840

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Overview

This highly original book asks new questions about paintings and prints associated with the British West Indies between 1700 and 1840, when the trade in sugar and slaves was most active and profitable. In a wide-ranging study of scientific illustrations, scenes of daily life, caricatures, and landscape imagery, Kay Dian Kriz analyzes the visual culture of refinement that accompanied the brutal process by which African slaves transformed “rude” sugar cane into pure white crystals.

In these works refinement is usually associated with the metropole, and “rudeness” with the colonies. Many artists capitalized on those characteristics of rudeness—animality, sensuality, and savagery—that increasingly became associated with all the island inhabitants. Yet other artists produced works that offered the possibility of colonial refinement, not just economic profit and sexual pleasure, thus complicating perceptions of difference between the two sides of the Atlantic.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine
Choice
Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300140620
  • Publisher: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
  • Publication date: 9/8/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kay Dian Kriz is associate professor of art history in the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University. She is the author of The Idea of the English Landscape Painter (Yale).

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Table of Contents

Introduction Assessing the culture of refinement 1

1 Curiosities, commodities, and transplanted bodies in Hans Sloane's Voyage to ... Jamaica 9

2 Marketing mulatresses in Agostino Brunias's West Indian scenes 37

3 The physiognomy and pathology of "black humor" : caricature and the West Indies on the eve of abolition 71

4 Making a black folk : Belisario's Sketches of character 117

5 Torrid zones and detoxified landscapes : picturing Jamaica, 1825-1840 157

Afterword 195

Notes 198

Bibliography 257

Index 274

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