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The Six Malagasy Christians (now in England) waiting at Tamatave to embark for Mauritius

Date: 19th century
Dimensions:
Sheet (entire sheet): 105 x 189 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Print
Object No: 00044262

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    Description
    This print shows six Malagasy Christians on shore at the port of Tamatave, Madagascar in 1838 waiting to embark for Mauritius and thence to England. During the 19th century Christians were persecuted and foreign missionaries were expelled from Madagascar. The six Christians depicted in this print were able to escape the country and later attended a meeting held by the London Missionary Society at Exeter Hall, England in 1839.
    SignificanceThis etching demonstrates the cultural conflict caused by Christian missionary activity in the Pacific and Indian Oceans during the 19th century. Missionaries were not always received with welcome arms and their presence often threatened local traditions, religion and social customs.
    HistoryGeorge Baxter was born on 31 July 1804 in Lewes, Sussex, the son of John Baxter a noted printer, publisher and bookseller. George Baxter displayed great artistic talent whilst at school and upon leaving school was apprenticed to a wood engraver. In 1827 he married Mary Harrild, the daughter of Robert Harrild who was a manufacturer of printing machinery and with backing from his father-in-law, set up his own printing business. About this time George Baxter started to experiment with colour printing, and he published his first colour print 'Butterflies' in 1829. By 1834 Baxter was producing colour prints used as frontispieces in books and in 1835 Baxter had developed his method of colour printing sufficiently to apply for a patent. His process meant that colour printing could be achieved relatively cheaply and for the first time made colour available to all. He died in 1867 after nearly 30 years of producing a range of colour prints on a variety of different subjects to a very high standard.

    In his process George Baxter used wood and metal colour blocks in conjunction with steel key plates to produce his pictures using oil inks. The subject was first engraved onto a steel key plate and impressions of this plate were taken, from which the colour blocks were cut - a different block being produced for each different colour. The steel key plate would be used to print a monochrome picture and then the colours would be built up by printing from the colour blocks using the relief process. Some of the prints required only 8 different blocks but some involved as many as 20 different colours, each being superimposed on the other after being allowed to dry. Baxter was meticulous in his work taking great care that the colours were not applied out of register and only applying two colours per day at the most, allowing each to dry between each pressing. George Baxter produced large quantities of about 400 different subjects and brought colour printing to the masses. Although his work was initially used as book illustrations, he soon found a market for single prints as decorative subjects for the home.

    During 1838-1839 and 1846-1847 Baxter is considered to have produced his finest and most serious work as an artist and colour printer. His talents were at their peak, both with regards to design and colour and with the exception of his book illustrations, his prints were now published in more significant sizes and were all original designs. Financially this was a disastrous period for Baxter, as his method required too much labour to be profitable. Most of the large prints published at this time in colour were issued by subscription only.

    Baxter began his affiliation with the London Missionary Society in 1837. 'In the nineteenth century missionary societies were very active and wealthy enough to finance expeditions to all parts of the world. The reports of their activities were eagerly followed and famous missionaries achieved the status and hero worship afforded to film stars today... (T)he societies were able to follow up the interest aroused by the exploits of their famous men with his (Baxter's) coloured prints, which were a novelty since photography was not then in use'.


    Additional Titles

    Web title: The Six Malagasy Christians (now in England) waiting at Tamatave to embark for Mauritius

    Assigned title: Colour print of 'The Six Malagasy Christians now in England waiting at Tamatave to embark for Mauritius'.

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