Album of watercolours and photographs.



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Beautiful Watercolours of Madagascar

68 original photographs, various sizes, from 58 by 70mm to 180 by 240mm, nearly all captioned in ink & 19 watercolours, various sizes, from 200 by 120mm to 170 by 250mm, signed with initials or full name. Oblong 4to. Original green cloth, rebacked. Madagascar, 1895 -

A well-executed album compiled and drawn by Henri Letrillard, a French officer serving in Madagascar, transformed by the 19 watercolours in his hand, which are made with wit and vigour and vividly illuminate the domestic life of the military administration of the island.

The years 1896 to 1904 saw a series of insurrections led against the French military and other foreign influences. The French, using their experience in Indo-China used the counter-insurgency "oil-spot" principle, where secure bases were established, from which a ring of stability would spread. Letrillard appears to have served in two such settlements, Madirovalo and Namorako, both some way inland from the north-west coast. Both Madirovalo and Namorako had defended bases, with lookout towers, surrounded by wooden ramparts and drawbridges. These stockades are shown several times in his watercolours but not in the photographs, nor in any other photographs we have seen before of Madagascar.

The photographs capture scenes of daily life showing both settlers and natives, views of Diego Suarez, Vohemar, Nossi Bè [sic], Antananarivo and Mahajunga (sometimes spelt here Majunga), and one photograph of Djibouti. One large photograph is of a firing squad "le peloton d'éxecution" at Majunga: the victim is not in the frame, but the event is well attended by onlookers. The caption records the officer in charge of the firing squad was later killed by the enemy in Lampasika.

The album concludes with numerous shots of French soldiers at camp including an exceptional photograph of soldiers on a hunting trip, posing very theatrically in front of their tent.

The watercolours are titled:

1. Garde Principal - Garde Civile Indigine de Madagascar Tenue d'Europe. 2. Souvenir de Madagascar - L'apperitif au Cape du Cercle a Majungae. 3. Vue generale de Madirovalo - Vue pase du Mirador du Poste - Decembre 1897. 4. Souvenir de Madagascar - Grande Rue de Madirovalo Novembre 1897. 5. Souvenir de Madagascar - Place de Nadirovalo - Novembre 97. 6. Souvenir de Madagascar - Rova de Madirovalo ma case - Celle du Chef de Poste Novembre 97. 7. Souvenir de Madagascar - Un coin du Rova de Madirovalo [Dec 1897]. 8. Entree Rova de Madirovalo - Madagascar [Dec 1897]. 9. Garde Civile de Indigine de Madagascar Mon Sergent [1897]. 10. Souvenir de Madagascar - Grande Rue de Madirovalo [1898]. 11. Souvenir de Madagascar - Entree du Rova de Madirovalo, vue prise de l'interieur de ma case. [1898]. Showin his desk, with his pipe, pictures and a periodical, and the drawbridge to the stockade beyond. 12. Ceci represente le Chef de poste du Namoroka. [1898]. With the surreal text "Ceci represente le Chef de Poste du Namoroko s'amusant avec l'intensite d'un poisson dans une guitare, ou si l'on aime mieux en rason proportionelle a ses appointements." - "This picture shows the head of the mission at Namoroka, amusing himself with the intensity of a fish in a guitar, or if you prefer, proportionally to his salary". 13. Souvenir de Madagascar. Vue interieur du Poste du Namoroka (Ambongo) Madagascar [Aug 1898]. 14. Souvenir de Madagascar. Vue interieur du Poste du Namoroka (cote Ouest) Ambongo Madagascar [Aug 1898]. 15. Souvenir de Madagascar. Poste du Namoroka (cote Est) Ambongo - Madagascar [Sept 1898]. 16. Souvenir de Madagascar. La chaste epouse de mon caporal (femme Betsimisara) [Sept 1898] 17. Coive de la Mabarary (reconnaisance du chute de Laizony) [July 1898]. 18. Ma Case au village de Madirovalo (1899). 19. Poste de Madirovalo (vue du Campe 1899).

Letrillard (1872-1940) entered the military in 1890, and was posted to Madagascar in 1896. Six years later, he was sent to the Congo where he worked as a clerk in the department of native affairs. He was promoted again in 1909 to assistant administrator and retired in 1923.

Stock Code: 210991

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