LIVINGSTONE (DAVID) Autograph letter signed ("David Livingstone"), to his publisher Robert Cooke, at John Murray's, giving forthright instruction on exactly how native Africans should be depicted in the forthcoming book, Newstead Abbey, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 7 October 1864

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Lot 104
LIVINGSTONE (DAVID)
Autograph letter signed ("David Livingstone"), to his publisher Robert Cooke, at John Murray's, giving forthright instruction on exactly how native Africans should be depicted in the forthcoming book, Newstead Abbey, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 7 October 1864

Sold for £ 4,750 (US$ 6,333) inc. premium
Property of a descendant of Robert Cooke, David Livingstone's publisher
LIVINGSTONE (DAVID)
Autograph letter signed ("David Livingstone"), to his publisher Robert Cooke, at John Murray's, giving forthright instruction on exactly how native Africans should be depicted in the forthcoming book ("...I forgot to say to Mr Murray that whatever artist may be employed to sketch the natives he had better be cautioned to make them not hideous like those of Baines. Captain [?] Webb deplores his inability to make natives good looking. He says he has often seen many very good looking but has got into the nasty way of so many others – Baines always made caricatures that would have serve equally well for the ugliest Terra del Fuegians South Australians – Aztecs earth men or any other uglies alive..."); he also states that he is sending "two small books containing observations for Mr Arrowsmith" (the map-maker) and "some sketches made by Dr Meller for Mr Murray's inspection to see if they will serve for woodcuts or illustrations"; he also mentions that "I am intending to come up to the meeting on the 14 of the R.G.S. and will of course call in"; the opening of the letter discussing the possibility of Murray's publishing Webb's African journal for private distribution, 4 pages, minor browning but overall in good and attractive condition, 8vo, Newstead Abbey, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 7 October 1864

Footnotes

  • ʻWHATEVER ARTIST BE EMPLOYED TO SKETCH THE NATIVES HE HAD BETTER BE CAUTIONED TO MAKE THEM NOT HIDEOUS' – Livingstone on the depiction of Africans in his Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries. William Webb, the owner of Newstead, was a big game enthusiast who had met Livingstone in Africa and, having been treated by him, stayed for a while at his Kolobeng Mission.

    In attacking Baines so harshly, Livingstone appears to be carrying over the feud that had been initiated by his brother Charles with the artist (see the letter in the previous lot). He had issued instruction for Baines to provide him with ʻa series of portraits of natives for the purposes of Ethnology, giving them if necessary in groups so as to show the shapes of the heads and bodies as accurately as you can'. It appears that Baines did indeed do what was required of him: ʻan example is his vigorous figure study entitled "A native of the country... on board the Pearl", which is inscribed with notes of ethnological interest ("height about 5 feet 6 – very stout and muscular"), although the inscription of a name perhaps indicates an attempt to engage with the sitter as an individual rather than as a specimen of racial type. Probably influenced by an increasing personal animosity towards Baines, Livingstone rejected these studies in 1859: "You have not got their true colours, nor in the drawings I have seen is the native countenance depicted except by exaggeration of certain features". While only a handful of Baines's surviving drawings from this period are ethnographic studies, they do not seem to substantiate Livingstone's criticisms' (Barringer, pp.187-90).
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