A RARE FRENCH COLONIAL SCULPTURE OF A COUPLE FROM THE FRENCH WEST INDIES, DRINKING RUM AND CHOCOLATE
The French Antilles or French Guyana, late 18th/early 19th century
The painted plaster figures with wood, glass and gilt braid, seated at a table, happily drinking and conversating, on a rectangular black base with four bun feet.
H. 20 x W. 27 x D. 18 cm
Joseph-Armand Coudre la Coudrais (1751-before 1809) and thence by descent.
Joseph-Armand came from a family of sailors and was captain of the Phénix and the L’aimable Rose, importing rum and cacao from the French West Indies.
So possibly Joseph-Armand himself commissioned this sculpture of the rum and cacao drinking couple in the French West Indies. His portrait is in the Musée de la Marine in Honfleur.
This sculpture makes one think of the diorama’s made by Gerrit Schouten in Dutch Guyana/Surinam. Schouten’s clients were Europeans who visited Surinam for a shorter or longer period. Gerrit Schouten, who’s mother was a mulatto and father a Dutchman, depicted the African slaves in Surinam almost exclusively while performing a slavedance, a du (see for an example Uit Verre Streken, June 2008,item 8). Once or twice a year the slaves on the plantations were allowed to make music, dance and dress-up for two or three days. These du’s, which ofcourse presented a very limited but colourful picture of “happy” slave-life in Surinam, were very popular among tourists who afterwards ordered a diorama of a slave dance from Gerrit Schouten.
In the background, a detail of a chromolithograph titled Baumwolle (cotton) from the series Ausländische Kulturpflanzen by Goering & Schmidt, printed and edited by F.E. Wac