Pierre Jacques Benoit was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1782. Initially trained as a jeweler and goldsmith, he eventually became a globetrotter and artist. In 1830, he visited the Dutch colony of Suriname, one of the centers of the slave trade. During his time in Suriname, Benoit explored the coastal city of Paramaribo as well as the tropical interior, including the the Jewish independent town of Savanna. Along the way, he produced dozens of drawings and paintings depicting architecture, plantations, slaves, and local rites, rituals, and customs. Upon his return, he published an extravagantly illustrated book on Suriname, offering a multifaceted perspective of colonist and slave culture that existed during that time. Benoit somewhat contradicts Suriname’s notorious reputation, even by the standards of the time period, for being a particularly harsh territory for slaves, by portraying the colonists as humane and respectful toward their slaves and also portraying free Africans, Jews, and indigenous people in daily activities.
- Benoit, P. J. Voyage à Surinam :description des possessions néerlandaises dans la Guyane. Bruxelles : Société des beaux-arts (De Wasme et Laurent), 1839.
- Persistent Link:
- Widener Library
- Harvard University