"Cap Haitien" Cap-Haïtien by NedHopkins

Cap-Haïtien Travel Guide: 18 reviews and 17 photos

Photo-portrait de Philomé Obin

Philomé Obin (1892-1986) was one of the two or three most influential of the "first generation" of Haitian painters.

One of his sons was in Philomé's studio when I picked this painting up. He asked his father why he hadn't written the work's title on it (as was his custom).

"Not necessary," the old man said. "It's me."

The title, "Photo-portrait ..." is Philomé's own: it appears in the letter he sent informing me the painting was finished.

(Philomé's eyes, incidentally, were not blue. Call it artistic license: he wanted his eyes, in the portrait, to match his suit and tie.)

Le roi Henri Christophe sortant dans la Citadelle

When I arrived to collect this work, three paintings were on a ledge in the artist's studio. Below each was a name: mine and those of (1) the actress Cicely Tyson and (2) the Frankfurt Museum.

The rendering of Christophe's Citadel is small but exquisite.

Henri Christophe, Roi d'Haïti

Sènëque Obin (1893-1977) was also a fine artist. His brush was less steady than his elder brother's, but his images are often more dynamic.

It's interesting to compare his version of Christophe leaving the Citadel with Philomé's (above).

(Though Haitians since Christophe's time have persisted in spelling his given name "Henri," the upstart king -- born in the British Caribbean -- was a lifelong Anglophile and always signed himself "Henry.")

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small, beautiful town with interesting sites nearby
  • Cons:Unrest and violence since 1986
  • In a nutshell:Worth a visit -- but probably only in a group
  • Last visit to Cap-Haïtien: Jul 1990
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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