[Port-au-Prince? ca. 1825]. Watercolor, 6 1/2 x 5 inches. Matted and framed to 10 x 8 inches. A few faint spots of foxing. Colors bright and fresh. Near fine. Item #WRCAM47136
A handsome watercolor of Haitian general and president Jean-Pierre Boyer (1776-1850), who reigned over Haiti from 1818 to 1843. Boyer, a free mulatto, was born in Port-au-Prince but educated in France. One of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution, he fled to France when Toussaint's uprising turned against the mulattoes as well as the whites, returning with LeClerc in 1802. After independence Haiti split into two states, north and south, and Boyer served as the right hand of Alexandre Petion, who established himself as president of the southern state. Boyer was appointed by Petion to be his successor, in 1818, while Henri Christophe still ruled in the north. After Christophe committed suicide in 1820 and his young son was killed ten days later, Boyer succeeded in reunifying the two states of Haiti. In late 1821, Santo Domingo became independent from Spain and Boyer swiftly moved to invade, uniting the island under his rule by early 1822. In 1825, after agreeing to an indemnity, he obtained official French recognition of the country for the first time since the revolution.
At first Boyer's rule looked like a new start for the war-ravaged country, and many free Blacks from the United States considered settling there; but Boyer preferred to maintain a semi-feudal government, and little was done to improve the situation. He stayed solidly in power until an earthquake was followed by an insurrection in 1843. Santo Domingo rebelled and won its independence back in 1844. Boyer fought back for over a year before fleeing first to Jamaica in 1845 and then to France, where he died in 1850. He succeeded in lasting as president longer than any other Haitian ruler, just edging out "Papa Doc" Duvalier for the honor.
In this portrait, which shows Boyer in three- quarter profile facing left, he is dressed in his full regalia as general and president, wearing a blue military coat trimmed in gold braid and a white cape with a red lining. This likeness closely resembles an engraving by Raban, dated 1825, which is probably based on it. He is at the height of his achievements, having just solidified his power by obtaining recognition from France. The portrait is signed with the initials "B.C." written in reverse in the bottom corner. An outstanding image of Haiti's fourth president.