Religious Ceremony on Martinique

Unknown maker, Frenchsummer 1850

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

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.

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  • Title: Religious Ceremony on Martinique
  • Creator: Unknown maker, French
  • Date: summer 1850
  • Physical Dimensions: 11.1 x 14.7 cm (4 3/8 x 5 13/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Daguerreotype
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Cased object
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.XT.1581.12
  • Markings: Markings: Plate mark, at lower right corner: "* [pascal lamb] 30 [all sideways]". Label: Inscribed on label affixed to backing, at upper center, in ink: "Martinique", and in pencil: "OWOEIO".
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Photographs