BLACK ARTISTS, BLACK MODELS: A Selling ExhibitionLondon
Women of Dominica Washing Clothes in a Stream
In 1764, the Italian painter Agostino Brunias accompanied the colonial Governor Sir William Young on a voyage to Barbados. Over the course of the following two decades, Brunias painted scenes of Dominica, Saint Vincent, Saint Christopher, and Barbados which offer an idealized and wholly artificial view of planation life. Here, three women of varied skin tones wash clothes in a stream. Although stripped of signifiers of social status such as costume, Brunias depicted free people of colour as lighter skinned than their servants and slaves, and, as here, placed those with the lightest skin in privileged positions at the centre of his compositions, indicating the internal hierarchies within the Black society the artist encountered in the Caribbean.