Religious Ceremony on Martinique

Object Details

Title:

Religious Ceremony on Martinique

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown maker, French

Culture:

French

Date:

summer 1850

Medium:

Daguerreotype

Dimensions:

11.1 x 14.7 cm (4 3/8 x 5 13/16 in.)

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This photograph records the baptismal ceremony for the slaves of the West Indian island of Martinique, for whom the rite represented affirmation from the church of their recent emancipation from slavery. Within the densely packed throng, a white-robed group at lower center dissolves into a spectral blur, their exuberant movement uncontainable by the camera.

Abolishing slavery in all its colonies was one of the goals declared by the new French provisional government in early 1848. Although news of this objective reached Martinique in late March, freedom was not formally granted until May of that year.

Exhibitions
The Art of the Daguerreotype (April 14 to July 12, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 14 to July 12, 1998
French Daguerreotype (May 12, 2003 to January 4, 2004)
  • Musée d'Orsay, (Paris), May 12 to August 17, 2003
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), September 22, 2003 to January 4, 2004