Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"The Creole kitchen of a Free man of color"

"The Creole kitchen of a Free man of color" Acrylic on canvas 20 X 16. Available.

My latest masterpiece is titled "The Creole kitchen of a Free man of color" Acrylic on canvas 20 X 16. Available. It shows and centers around a circa 1820's Creole kitchen of a wealthy Free man of color and his family. The Free man of color is fashionably dressed with a top hat. He is standing next to his son, who has a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard puppy. The Catahoula is the result of Native Americans having bred their own dogs with molossers and greyhounds brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century.

The Free man of color is fashionably dressed with a top hat. He is standing next to his son, who has a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard puppy.

The 1820's French print source for the New Orleans Free man of color and son.

A  Louisiana Slat-Back Side Chair of turned mulberry with rush seat, circa Late-18th to Early-19th Centuries. 

The Free woman of color mother sits at the end of the cypress table and stirs a cup of coffee. Her daughter mixes dough for pie crust in a mochaware pottery bowl. The interior of the kitchen is furnished with local made Creole furniture that include a 18th century Louisiana cabriole leg armoire to the left of the fireplace. In the center of the kitchen is a long cypress work table. in front of the armoire is a Louisiana Mahogany & black leather Campeche Chair circa 1820's. 

A Louisiana Mahogany & black leather Campeche Chair circa 1820's. 

Louisiana Armoire. Walnut and Cypress. Cove-Molded Cornice above a Plain Frieze,

 Louisiana Creole inlaid armoire, early nineteenth century 

Her daughter mixes dough for pie crust in a mochaware pottery bowl.

A American mochaware bowl in my collection. 

Over the past 3 months I have been working in a 1830's Creole cottage in the French Quarter pricing a large collection of antiques. In exchange for me working I'm working for antiques. The house has a large collection of 18th & 19th century pottery shards dug from French Quarter properties. The next few photo's are from pieces I picked out for my collection. Pottery shards help us now what types of pottery was used in New Orleans. Above English blue feather edge pottery. 

Above green feather edge pottery more rare than the blue. 

The simple design yet very elegant appeal - FeatherEdge stoneware/china - - dishes that are known as featheredge creamware pottery was produced by many 18th and 19th century pottery companies.

Feather Edge Ware, also known as Shell Edge Ware, (most collectors today use term featheredge), was used in the housholds of all classes for everyday use. It was made mainly in the Staffordshire and Leeds areas of England and exported to many areas of the world. The United States was the main importer. It was made with salt glaze stoneware, whiteware, pearlware, creamware and ironstone bodies. The older pieces have incised designs on the edge.

mochaware  pottery from the French Quarter 

Mocha decorated pottery is a type of dipped ware (slip-decorated, lathe-turned, utilitarian earthenware), mocha or mochaware, in addition to colored slip bands on white and buff-colored bodies, is adorned with dendritic (tree-like or branching) markings resembling the natural geological markings on moss agate, known as "mocha stone" in Great Britain in the late 18th century. The stone was imported from Arabia through the port of Mocha (al Mukha in Yemen) from whence came large supplies of coffee. An unknown potter or turner discovered that by dripping a colored acidic solution into wet alkaline slip on a pot body, the color would instantly ramify into the dendritic random markings that fit into the tradition of imitating geological surfaces prevalent in the potteries of that period. The earliest known dated example (1799) is a mug in the collection of the Christchurch Mansion Museum in Ipswich, England. Archival references are known that suggest production began as early as 1792.

Manufactured by potteries throughout Great Britain, France, and North America, mocha was the cheapest decorated ware available. Most British production went to export whereas France and North America manufactured for the home markets. Archaeological finds throughout the eastern United States suggest that mocha was used in taverns and homes, from lowly slave quarters to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Poplar Forest. After the mid 19th century, British imports waned, with those potteries still making mocha concentrating on government-stamped capacity-verified measures (jugs and mugs) for use in pubs and markets. North American product was based entirely on yellow or buff-colored bodies banded in black with broad white slip bands on which the dendritic markings appeared. Some British makers used yellow-firing clay, too, but the bulk of the wares were based on white bodies, the earliest being creamware and pearlware, while later, heavier and thicker bodies resembled ironstone, known best to archaeologists simply as "whiteware".

Redwear pottery 

The two white cone shapes on the table are sugar loafs with black iron sugar nips on the table.

Most of the sugar used in North America in the 19th century was imported from the West Indies and locally here in Louisiana . The sugar was processed in cone-shaped clay molds that removed the syrup from the raw sugar and made loafs of sugar crystals. The housewife bought the expensive cone or loaf and carefully cut it into lumps.

The processing of sugar changed in the 1850s, and the new methods made sugar inexpensive enough for most Americans. The sugar chest had been used to store the expensive sugar cones and the metal nipper's used to cut them. The locked chest, which protected the sugar from insects and theft, was not needed when sugar became plentiful. 

A pair of Classical Trumpet shaped flower pots. 

To the right of the cypress table is a  Louisiana Slat-Back Side Chair of turned mulberry with rush seat, circa Late-18th to Early-19th Centuries.  Louisiana's Creoles were highly Catholic and displayed religious artifacts and art in their homes, like the cypress altar to the right of the fireplace. Creoles are, like most southern Louisianians, predominantly Catholic. Some Creoles had family altars set up in their homes like this one.

Old Master copy of The Madonna in prayer, by Onorio Marinari (1627 – January 5, 1715) an Italian painter. 

Over the fireplace is a Old Master copy of The Madonna in prayer, after Onorio Marinari (1627 – January 5, 1715) an Italian painter. The painting displays fresh Easter Sago palms tucked behind it. To the right of the fireplace are Copper pots,pans and molds. to the left of the fireplace is a 18th century French pottery water cistern. With 18th century French faïence plates and platters above the cistern. On this cypress table and fireplace is Mochaware and pottery. On the center of the fireplace is a 18th century French panetiere, made to hold bread. 

A 18th century panetiere an ornate French-provincial bread box for bread storage.

New Orleans free men of color have be overlooked by their more famous counterpart, The Free woman of color. In Louisiana, free people of color enjoyed a relatively high level of acceptance and prosperity during the antebellum period in Louisiana, a legacy from the state’s French and Spanish colonial antecedents. They were most heavily concentrated in New Orleans, where they often worked as artisans and professionals. However, the vast majority of ethnic and social middle group lived by arduous toil in trades.

19th Copper molds.

Copper pot's, pains and coffee pot. 

A Louisiana Cypress Kitchen Table, early 19th c., having a three board top, plain skirt on square tapering legs.

It is for their contributions to the arts that Louisiana’s free people of color have come to be best known, with many distinguishing themselves as authors and artisans. Most typical were the occupations of tailor, barber, carpenter, mason, cigar maker, shoemaker and hack driver. As children, Free man of color were often sent to France to be educated by their French Creole father's. Over time, free people of color developed as a separate class between the colonial French and Spanish and the mass of enslaved black African workers. 

 They often achieved education and some measure of wealth; they spoke French and practiced Catholicism, although they also developed a syncretic Christianity. At one time the center of their residential community in New Orleans was the French Quarter and Treme. Many were artisans who owned property and their own businesses. They formed a social category distinct from both whites and slaves, and maintained their own society into the period after United States annexation. Free people of color were Initially descendants of French white men and African slaves, as time when on they often married within their own mixed-race community. Acrylic on canvas 20 X 16. Available. 

"The Creole kitchen of a Free man of color" Acrylic on canvas 20 X 16. Available.

The first Creole kitchen painting was a commission from a friend over 2 years ago, and they have blossomed into over 20 kitchen paintings since. I was a little hesitant to paint the first kitchen painting as I did not consider the kitchen a fine room of a house like my parlor or bedroom paintings. But once I started painting them. I have really got into the thyme, each new kitchen painting is better than the other.  The kitchen is a room that just about everyone can relate too.  18th and 19th century New Orleans Creole kitchens were fascinating room filled with interesting cooking apparatus. If you would like to follow the progression of my artwork and these paintings please visit and like my facebook page 


  1. You talk about a historian you are one of New Orleans and life back in the day for sure.
    I like reading your knowledge of life back during the 1800's in New Orleans.
    Your kitchen painting is so precise.

    I just visited a special mass at St Peters Brush Creek Catholic church where the first black priest was baptized. His parents were slaves and his mother had escaped to eastern Missouri to get across the river to Quincy Illinois. During this journey they lived close to this little church and attended while Father Augusta Tolton was a small child. The catholic people helped his mother and siblings. I haven't heard if this is what made him choose to be a priest.
    Our new catholic high school Is named Tolton High after father Tolton of course


    1. Hi Janice, thank you for your comment and the info on the priest. I will have to look it up, It sounds very interesting!

  2. Always so delightful to read about all the history that goes into your charming work. : )

    1. Thank you Stephilius, This painting sold this morning. I'm happy. Now time to work on the next Creole kitchen.

  3. I love how you incorporate all of the antique elements into your artworks. It's all in the details isn't it?

    How wonderful to be working for antiques, and that you've found so many pieces of ceramic shards. I have a few pieces of green feather edge ceramics in my collection but did not realize they were rarer than the blue. So nice to learn something new from your posts, thank you.

    1. Thank you Chronica Domus. I have always been a Antiques Dealer at heart! The antiques will always show up in my art. Green feather edge is extremely rare as well as yellow and red feather edge, You have wonderful treasures! This painting sold today and will be going to a nice home in Boston.