The Linen Market, Santo Domingo

Agostino Brunias

El mercado de ropa, Santo Domingo

Brunias, Agostino

c. 1730 - Dominica, c. 1796

The Linen Market, Santo Domingo, c. 1775

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Oil on canvas

49,6 x 64,8 cm

CTB.1986.22

Artwork history

  • Christie’s, lot 11, London, November 20th, 1986.

  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, 1986.

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

1996

De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, nº 12, p. 70.

1999

Aspectos de la tradición paisajística en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Málaga, Salas de Exposiciones del Palacio Episcopal, nº 19, p. 86.

2000

De Van Goyen a Constable. Aspectos da tradición do pintoresco na Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Corunna, Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña, nº 31, p. 124.

2001

De Van Dyck a Goya. Maestros Antiguos de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Castellón, Museo de Bellas Artes, nº 34, p. 122.

  • -De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Exhib. cat. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1996, nº 12, p. 70. [Sheet by Peter C. Sutton].

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 1, p. 204, illus. p. 205 [Sheet by Peter C. Sutton].

Expert report

A relatively large and ambitious work by Brunias, this painting is an exceptionally fine example of his colourful images of Caribbean civilisation and culture. Island women of all stations of life, classes and races assemble in the busy marketplace to shop, ply their wares, and socialise. In this busy, mostly female realm of commerce, virtually the only man is the elegant black gentleman in handsome yellow coat who converses with the substantial lady with turbaned headdress, fan, and red sun umbrella at the right. In his descriptive and analytical fashion, the painter distributes his figures across his frieze-like composition in such a way to maximise the variety of their poses -sitting, standing, bending- and to give as full as possible an account of their body types, appearances and, above all, diverse costumes. Even their wares, for example, the various types of plaid and checked linen cloth on the table in the middle distance, the wicker baskets, bowls of fruit, and green and yellow bananas in the immediate foreground, are recorded with an eye to their characteristic details. In the tradition of the best ethnographic artists and spectatorial writers, Brunias seeks to give the viewer a specific sense of the culture and peoples observed with anecdote and minutia. Even the background architecture is deliberately reportorial, recording the dwellings’ various forms, some elevated on stilted pilings, others low with peaked roofs and large shutters opening vertically to shade the merchants’ goods from the fierce sun. Though inadvertently anticipating the charming naïveté of the 19th century’s Douanier Rousseau, Brunias’ paintings have a probity and devotion to fact that we still admire today.

Peter C. Sutton