About this artwork
Sold into slavery as a boy, Jean-Baptiste Belley (1746–1805) bought his freedom in 1764. Belley fought in the American War of Independence and served as a captain in the French army during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) fighting to abolish slavery on the island of Saint-Domingue (now Hispaniola). In 1793 he was elected to the National Convention in Paris, becoming its first black deputy.
Belley wears the uniform of a representative to the Convention. As we know from the painting for which this is a highly finished study or copy drawing, his hat feathers and sash are the colors of the French Republic: blue, white, and red. He leans against a marble plinth supporting a bust of the French philosopher and enemy of slavery Guillaume Raynal (1713–1796).
Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
- Jean-Baptiste Belley
- Black chalk, with stumping, and traces of pen and black ink, heightened with touches of opaque white, on ivory wove paper
- 369 × 303 mm
- Restricted gift of the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Foundation