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.

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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.

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Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 6: The Awards

Ebony G. Patterson was the winner of the 2014 Aaron Matalon Award. Here is one of her two works in that Biennial, Lillies, Carnations and Rozebuds (from Dead Treez), installation view at Devon House

Artists who participate in the Jamaica Biennial qualify for two awards. One is the National Gallery of Jamaica’s own Aaron Matalon Award; the other is the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, which is the private initiative of the New York-based art critic Edward M. Gómez. Both awards will be announced at the main opening function of the Biennial, at the National Gallery of Jamaica, on Sunday, February 26. This opening function starts at 1:30 pm. Edward Gómez will be in attendance to present the Dawn Scott Memorial award.

The Aaron Matalon Award is granted to the artist who, in the opinion of the combined Exhibitions and Acquisitions committees of the National Gallery made the most outstanding contribution to the Biennial. The award is named after the National Gallery’s late Chairman and benefactor, the Hon. Aaron Matalon, O.J. Awardees receive a unique medal, hand-crafted by the noted Jamaican jeweller Carol Campbell, and a monetary award of $ 100,000. Artists who have won the Aaron Matalon Award in the past are: Omari Ra, Renee Cox, Norma Rodney Harrack, Phillip Thomas, Laura Facey, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan and, most recently, Ebony G. Patterson.

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The Hon. Aaron Matalon O.J. and Marjorie Matalon at the NGJ in the company of the Rt. Hon. P.L Patterson, the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, in 1999.

Aaron Matalon, an impassioned philanthropist and supporter of the arts, was not only the National Gallery’s Chairman for many years, but also one of its most generous donors. In 1999, Aaron Matalon and his wife Marjorie presented the National Gallery with its largest and arguably its most significant donation thus far. This gift consisted of 218 items, ranging from rare early maps of Jamaica and the Caribbean, early prints and photographs, and a wide, carefully selected group of modern Jamaican art works that filled many gaps in the National Gallery’s collection. This collection is now known as the Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection and is extensively used in the National Gallery’s temporary and permanent exhibitions.

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Dawn Scott and Edward Gomez in 2006

The Dawn Scott Memorial Award is granted to an artist whose work in the Biennial reflects the inquisitive and innovative spirit, fine craftsmanship and independent thinking that characterised the late Dawn Scott’s approach to art-making. Edward Gómez created the Dawn Scott Memorial Award in 2014 and personally selects the recipient(s). The first award in 2014 was shared between two young artists, Camille Chedda and Kimani Beckford. A monetary prize of US$ 500 is attached to the award.

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Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Kimani Beckford – B.i.B. (2014)

The multifaceted body of work of the influential Jamaican artist, teacher and environmental activist Alison Dawn Scott (1951-2010) encompassed drawing, painting, sculpture, architectural design and sophisticated batik fabric-dyeing techniques. Scott’s art often evoked timely, even controversial social-cultural and political themes. Her ground-breaking mixed-media installation, A Cultural Object (1985), which is now in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s permanent collection, is made from found materials from the street, calling attention to issues of class, race, cultural history and everyday economics with a sense of drama and psychological intensity that challenged a viewer’s sense of reality. It remains an urgent, powerful work of art today. Edward Gómez lived and worked in Jamaica as a cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston in the 1980s and became a close friend of Dawn Scott at that time. Since then, he has maintained close ties to Jamaica and its arts community. He has published numerous articles and essays about Jamaican artists, including the legendary Intuitives, which helped introduce their achievements to broad, international audiences.

Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda - Wholesale Degradables (2014)

Co-winner of the inaugural Dawn Scott Memorial Award, Camille Chedda – Wholesale Degradables (2014)

Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 4: Biennial at National Gallery West ft. David Gumbs’ Xing Wang Video Installation

National Gallery West

2017-biennial-invitation-montego-bayThe Jamaica Biennial 2017, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s flagship exhibition, is shown at three locations, namely at the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. At National Gallery West, which is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, the Biennial will feature an interactive video installation by the Martinique-based David Gumbs. This exhibition will open to the public on Friday, February 24 at 7 pm. The guest speaker will be His Worship Homer Davis, the Mayor of Montego Bay, and the artist David Gumbs will be in attendance.

david-gumbs-dome-2David Gumbs is one of six specially invited international artists in the Jamaica Biennial 2017, who exhibit along with more than 80 artists from Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora, and the inclusion of these international artists is part of the National Gallery’s efforts to give the Biennial…

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Panel Discussion “Kingston: Filming The City” – October 27 @ 2 pm

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On Thursday, October 27, 2016, starting at 2:00 pm, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Kingston: Filming the City. This event aims to explore the the work of filmmakers in depicting and interpreting Kingston life and its environs. Kingston: Filming the City is part of the educational programming associated with the NGJ’s current feature exhibition Kingston, Part 1: The City and Art, which opened on July 31 and will now close on November 5. The exhibition utilizes paintings, sculpture, ceramics, film and photography to explore the dynamic between Kingston’s growth as a major commercial as well as cultural centre and the development of Jamaican visual art practice and infrastructure.

The focus on film for the panel discussion was inspired by the inclusion of two motion-picture works in the exhibition: Chaotic Beauty (2016), a video by emerging Jamaican digital artist Di-Andre Caprice Davis, and The Harder They Come (1972), the iconic Jamaican film directed by Perry Henzell and written by himself and Trevor Rhone. Both of these productions have featured Kingston not just as a backdrop to story-telling, but as a key location element that informs narrative progression and character development. Some have argued that The Harder They Come is also a portrait of Kingston and a time-capsule representation of urban life in Jamaica in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Kingston has featured in several other memorable, locally produced and international films, including the first James Bond film Dr No (1962), Rockers (1978), Dancehall Queen (1997), Third World Cop (1999), Better Mus’ Come (2010) and Kingston Paradise (2013). Kingston also serves as the locale and backdrop to numerous Jamaican and other music videos, such as Proteje’s Kingston Be Wise (2013).

The discussion on October 27 will be moderated by lecturer of Audio-Visual History at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Dr. Julian Cresser, along with the following panellists:

  • Franklyn “Chappy” St. Juste, veteran cinematographer who has been credited in films such as The Harder They Come (1972), Children of Babylon (1980) and Coolie Pink and Green (2009). St. Juste has also contributed valuable years of service to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) and the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC).
  • Natalie Thompson, film producer and managing director of Cinecom. Some of Thompson’s acclaimed productions have included Third World Cop (1999), Knight and Day (2010) and the Marley documentary (2012).
  • Nile Saulter, cinematographer and film director as well as founding member of New Caribbean Cinema. Some of his notable productions include Coast (2011), Pillowman (2013) and Everblessed (2016), a collaboration between himself and Canadian journalist Jeremy Relph.
  • Randall Richards, emerging photographer, videographer and one of the founders of ARRC Creative Media Ltd. Richards’ recent productions have included the music video for music single by Reggae artiste Protogé, Kingston Be Wise (2013).

Also as an accompanying mini-campaign to the Kingston: Filming The City panel discussion, persons are being invited to create 10 to 20 second videos about Kingston and post them to the NGJ Education Department Facebook page, using the hashtag #ngjkingstonfilm. The final day for posting will be on November 4, 2016. All posts will be reviewed by the National Gallery of Jamaica before appearing on the page’s timeline.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the Kingston, Part 1: The City and Art exhibition.

“Caribbean in Motion” To Be Shown at National Gallery West

National Gallery West

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National Gallery West, the Montego Bay branch of the National Gallery of Jamaica, is pleased to present the Caribbean in Motion: Improving Lives through Artistry and Animation, an exhibition of work by Caribbean animators, which is presented in Jamaica in association with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Caribbean in Motion will be on view at National Gallery West from October 2 to November 20, 2016.

Caribbean in Motion was organized as a partnership between the IDB and the Animae Caribe Caribbean Animation Festival and earlier this year shown at the IDB Cultural Center in Washington, DC. The exhibition highlights some of the most captivating and imaginative animation and illustration in the Caribbean today, including works by Makesi Aquan, Danielle Blaize, Mathew Hudson, Alison Latchman, Anieph Latchman, Wendell McShine, Khia Poitier, Ansar Sattar, Steven Schmid and Marlo Scott. Caribbean in Motion explores the multifaceted social and economic benefits generated by…

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Last Sundays, June 26, 2016/KOTE event – feat. Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and David Gumbs

June 2016 Last Sundays (updated 2)

The National Gallery of Jamaica is presenting a special edition of its Last Sundays on June 26, 2016, on the occasion of the 2016 Kingston on the Edge (KOTE) urban arts festival. The programme features music by Notis Heavyweight Rockaz and, in collaboration with New Local Space (NLS), there will be an interactive video performance by the Martinique-based artist David Gumbs. There will also be opportunity to tour the current exhibition, Digital, and to view the permanent exhibitions.

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