Officers of H.M. Brigantine 'Bonetta' on board a hulk by British School

Officers of H.M. Brigantine 'Bonetta' on board a hulk

British School

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Officers of H.M. Brigantine 'Bonetta' on board a hulk by British School zoom

Officers of H.M. Brigantine 'Bonetta' on board a hulk

This pen and ink drawing with watercolour depicts a group of Royal Navy officers drinking and smoking around a table in the company of a black female attendant. A contemporary inscription gives a more precise account of the time and place: 'Officers of HM Brig Bonetta on Board a Hulk, Sierra Leone, Africa in '37'.

The 'Bonetta' (1836), was a fast and manoeuvrable brigantine designed to suppress the recently outlawed slave trade in British colonies around the west coast of Africa. The hulk identified as the setting for this drawing was probably the 'Conflict', which appears to have been used as a floating brothel for the crews of British ships visiting Sierra Leone. The black female figure on the right is likely, therefore, to be a slave in all but name, kept aboard the Conflict for the sexual satisfaction of British sailors. The drawing was probably made by one of the naval officers from the 'Bonetta', and can be dated reasonably precisely between 15 and 22 March 1837 when, according to the Bonetta's Master's log, the ship's company spent a week on board the 'Conflict'.
British School

Original size: 270 mm x 358 mm

  • Image reference: L5076

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