Description

This plate from James Hakewill’s A Picturesque Tour in the Island of Jamaica (1824–25) depicts Trinity Estate, one of four adjoining plantations owned by Zachary Bayly (about 1721–69). The aqueduct in the foreground was an asset to the estate, erected, Hakewill writes, at ‘vast expense’ for the continuous irrigation of crops like sugar cane. 

Hakewill’s aquatint series is based on drawings he produced during a year-long visit to Jamaica in 1820–21. A year before, he had collaborated with J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) to produce the successful Picturesque Tour of Italy (1818–20): an illustrated book of Italian views following the same format. Turner’s influence can be detected throughout Hakewill’s Jamaican series, in the rendering of skies, perspective and colour.

By the time Hakewill’s drawings were published (1824–25) new laws had been proposed by the British government to improve the living conditions of Jamaican slaves. Planters resented and resisted this legislation, and in 1823 a major rebellion had taken place, quashed by the authorities with extreme brutality. Hakewill however, shows Jamaica as a place of immutable tranquillity. 

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