18th Century Jamaican Painting Auctions for US$80,000

Felsted - cropped

A painting by the Jamaica-born 18th century artist, musician and botanist Samuel Felsted (1743-1802) has just sold at auction for US$ 80,000, or more than Ja$ 10 million, in an auction of American furniture, folk and decorative arts at Freeman’s, the oldest US auction house, based in Philadelphia. The National Gallery of Jamaica had made a bid within the auction house’s estimate of US$ 10-15,000 but was quickly outbid. The lot, a painting titled A North-East View of the House of Mr. Emanuel Lousada, Kingston, Jamaica (1778) went to an as yet unidentified bidder on the floor.

Freeman’s auction web page had the following to say about Feldsted and the painting at auction:

“William Felsted, the father of Samuel Felsted, was an English-born merchant, ironmonger and organist, who arrived in Jamaica in the 1730s, but was in Boston in 1737, petitioning to establish a shop. In 1741, before returning to Jamaica, William Felsted married Joyce Weaver at Christ Church in Philadelphia. Samuel Felsted was born in Jamaica in 1743, was a property owner by the age of 19, and baptized as an Anabaptist in 1763 at the age of 20. He married Maria Laurence, daughter of a plantation owner, in 1770, and they eventually had eight children.”

“In 1771, Felsted was admitted to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia–one of four Jamaicans to be accepted to the organization in the 18th century. In support of his application for membership and due to his interest in botany, Felsted sent drawings of Jamaican butterflies. Dr. James Smith, a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Jamaica, in a letter of support for Felsted’s membership wrote, ‘Mr. Samuel Felsted, an ingenious young Gentleman of good reputation in this Town applied to me for an introduction to the members of your newly established Society, expressing a great desire to become a correspondent; being long convinced of his merit in the three Sister Sciences: Poetry, Painting and Music for which he has natural genius.’ Smith continues, ‘His education has been rather confined, but by great industry and force of native genius, he has recommended himself to the wise and learned of this island.’ After his admission to the Philosophical Society, Felsted sent plans for a horizontal windmill designed to power sugar mills. For most of his life, Felsted was the organist at St. Andrew Parish Church in Kingston, and is best known today as the composer of the first complete oratorio written in the New World– “Jonah,” published in London in 1775.”

“Emanuel Baruh Lousada (1740-1797 or 1807) was a prominent Jewish merchant, land owner and trader in Kingston with family business connections throughout the West Indies and London. Lousada married an English cousin, Esther Lousada, who died in 1775, and later his brother Daniel’s widow, Rachel. The Lousadas traced their ancestry to Granada, Spain and frequently used a Coat-of-Arms as seen in this painting”

The painting is of significant historical interest and the rather static composition is enlivened by an interesting detail, a horse and carriage scene with uniformed black driver and attendant, which more actively references the social dynamics of the 18th century than the depiction of the house in itself. Produced some fifty years before Belisario and Kidd, Felsted’s commissioned painting and his efforts in the field of music also illustrate the early beginnings of professional art practice in Jamaica.


Valerie Facey was instrumental in the redisovery of Felsted’s pioneering oratorio in the late 1980s and her Mill Press reproduced the booklet for Felsted’s Jonah oratorio in 1990. The oratorio was performed at the St Andrew Parish Church on that occasion. As the musicologist Pamela O’Gorman wrote at that time: “There is no excitement quite like that of making a discovery which confounds all one’s preconceived notions, or opens up new areas of knowledge, about an aspect of history that had hitherto been obscure or neglected.” The discovery of the painting at auction today illustrates that Felsted requires further research and attention as a historical figure in Jamaica.

More about Felsted can be read here.

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Bryan McFarlane

Bryan McFarlane – Dark, Like the Weather (c2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 is almost in its last month as it closes on May 28, and is a must-see exhibition. Here is a short feature on Bryan McFarlane, whose two paintings, which are presented as a diptych, and video can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston Waterfront.

Bryan McFarlane – Like the Weather (c2016)

Bryan McFarlane was born in Moore Town, Portland. McFarlane was educated at the Jamaica School of Art and earned a MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art in 1983. He is Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and has previously served as Visiting Professor to a number of institutions including the University of the West Indies and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is currently working on a three year project with research scientists, jointly with EMMAS and TERC, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with a grant from the National Science Foundation. McFarlane has been featured in numerous exhibitions locally and internationally and is well represented in a number of public and private collections. His paintings and mixed media works explore his Maroon heritage, African Diaspora culture and the environmental threats of the Anthropocene. Among his many accolades, McFarlane was awarded a gold medal by the Chinese Government for his entry in the Olympics Fine Arts Exhibition in Beijing in 2008. He was also awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for his contribution to art and art education. Bryan McFarlane lives in the USA.

Website: bryanmcfarlane.net



Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Franz Marzouca

Franz Marzouca – Canoe Nude Series # 7 (2016)

Franz Marzouca’s work in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston until May 28.

Franz Marzouca was born in 1959, Kingston, Jamaica. Marzouca studied photography at TASIS, Switzerland and Barry University in Miami. Since 1982 he has been working as a commercial photographer, executing commissions for major clients in the Caribbean and North America. Marzouca has participated in numerous art shows including the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions of the National Gallery of Jamaica as well as the annual Liguanea Art Festivals. Marzouca lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Website: franzmarzouca.com

Franz Marzouca – Canoe Nude Series # 5 (2016)

Last Sundays, April 30, 2017 – feat. Shashame and the Jamaica Biennial 2017

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for April 30, 2017 will feature the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition and a screening of the film documentary, Shashamane, On the Trail of The Promised Land.

The film explores the narratives of a number of settlers of African-descent from across the world, who have been living in Shashamane – a 200-hectare plot of land in Ethiopia, located 250 km south of Addis Ababa. The land was donated to all blacks in the world by the Emperor of Ethiopia Hailé Selassie in 1950. Ras Mweya Masimba is one of the key characters in the film, he moved to Shashamane in 1990. He is an English-born artist of Jamaican origins who depicts the deeds of his people in his animated films. Today African descendants from around the world — France, Jamaica, the United States, the United Kingdom, and various Caribbean islands – live in Shashamane. All of them were motivated by the desire for self-affirmation, after centuries of humiliation, and a longing to bring up their children in a nurturing context devoid of racism, making of tangible reality of the famous “Exodus” sung by Bob Marley.

The director of Shashamane, On the Trail of The Promised Land, Guilia Amati is an Italian-French filmmaker. She has directed several ads and commercials for corporations, NGOs and International organizations such as the FAO and Caritas International. In 2010 she co-directed, with Stephen Natanson, the feature-length documentary This Is My Land…Hebron, which won more than twenty awards, including the Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival, the Festival International du Film des Droits de l’Homme de Paris, the Buenos Aires Human Rights Film Festival, and the Italian foreign press association’s Golden Globe Prize. The film also earned a special mention at the Nastri D’Argento, where it was a finalist for the David di Donatello Award and was selected by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival for their festivals in London, New York and Chicago. Shashamane is Amati’s second feature-length film.

Visitors will also be able to view the critically acclaimed Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition, which opened with a series of events from February 24 to 26 and continues until May 28 at three locations, the National Gallery of Jamaica itself, Devon House in New Kingston and National Gallery West in Montego Bay. The exhibition features the work of more than 90 artists in a variety of media and styles, including that of six international invitees – David Gumbs, Andrea Chung, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Raquel Paiewonsky, Marcel Pinas, and Nadia Huggings – and also features two special tributes to noted Jamaican artists — the painter Alexander Cooper and the late photographer and videographer Peter Dean Rickards.

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on Sunday, April 30, 2017 and the film will start at 1:30 pm. As is customary for Last Sundays, admission will be free at the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Downtown Kingston location, and there will also be free tours of the exhibition. The Devon House location will also be exceptionally open from 11 am to 4 pm on April 30 and National Gallery West will as usual be open from 9 am to 5 pm. Regular admission rates will apply at both National Gallery West and at Devon House.


Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists – Judy Ann MacMillan

Judy Ann MacMillan – Self Portrait Wearing a Crown of Thorns (2016)

The work of Judy Ann MacMillan in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 is on view in the main exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

Judy Ann MacMillan was born in 1945, St Andrew Jamaica. MacMillan attended the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee (Scotland) where she attained a Diploma of Art. A classical painter, she is best known for her acutely observed portraits, landscapes and still lifes. She is a regular exhibitor both locally and internationally, including the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica. Her most recent solo exhibition was titled Judy Ann Macmillan, Still Painting, which was held at the French Embassy in Kingston in 2016. Among her achievements, was her induction in the Hall of Fame of the Caribbean Foundation for the Arts, for outstanding contribution in the field of art in 2007. MacMillan lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

Website: www.judyannmacmillan.com

Judy Ann MacMillan – Village Venus (2016)

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Invited Artists: Prudence Lovell

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (…a huge and birdless silence) (2017), collage, detail

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 features a four-panel collage by Prudence Lovell, of which two panels are illustrated here. The work can be viewed until May 28 at the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston.

Prudence Lovell was born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England. Lovell was educated at the Kingston on Thames Art College and at the Manchester Polytechnic, in England. She has for many years taught at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, School of Visual Arts and produces works in paint, collage and drawing media. She has exhibited locally and internationally and this includes many exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, most recently Explorations 3: Seven Women Artists in 2015 and Digital in 2016. “The present work seeks to illuminate the contemporary moment of instability and hazard. It contemplates battered black boxes as metaphors for destruction and peril but also as repositories of explanation and knowledge, at the same time as using them as vehicles for allegory and allusion. Collage and imagery reveal and conceal in equal measure but neither the title, ‘..a huge and birdless silence’ (taken from a Philip Larkin poem), nor the work itself offers any ultimate comfort.” Lovell lives in St Andrew, Jamaica.

Prudence Lovell – Untitled (…a huge and birdless silence) (2017), collage, detail