There’s no better way to appreciate what Jean-Jacques Dessalines and his army accomplished during the Battle of Vertieres on 18th November 1803, than with a painting by the late Haitian painter Jean-Baptiste Jean.
The Battle of Vertières Day
The Battle of Vertières Day is celebrated every November 18th in Haiti. It marks a special day for all locals as they celebrate the victory over Napoleon's French expeditionary forces by Supreme Commander Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who led the Haitian revolution.
This was the last battle between Haiti's rebels and Napoleon's French forces. At the time, the Caribbean island of Hispaniola was under French colonial rule. The French used African slaves for significant production of sugar and plantations. The Battle of Vertières was an end of a series of bloody wars and an uphill struggle towards independence. Finally, in 1804, Haiti became the first independent Black Republic!
The revolution stopped the European Colonial powers and led to the decline of the transatlantic slave trade. The Battle of Vertières marked the first time that a slave army led a successful revolution in humankind's history.
Over time, art has been used to reflect cultural values, beliefs and identity in Haiti. It is through art that the famous Haitian painter Jean-Baptise Jean would provide historical documentation. His paintings have been exhibited in the United States, Dominican Republic, and France and cited in different books. Jean illustrated the "Reunion to Plan the Battle of Vertières" in a beautiful painting that shows how the Haitian soldiers met to plan the war.
In the painting, you can see the Haitian soldiers dressed in various military outfits. The illustration shows that they met at the Casern, a small, temporary building for housing a garrison of troops. Their blue and red flag on the wall is a sign of pride and patriotism.
It's a beautiful image showing a group of people coming together for the well-being of their country. Jean also included a lady in his painting, signifying that freedom was meant for everyone, not just men and soldiers. The image places the soldiers in light of heroism and evokes a sense of pride and devotion; it gives the Haitians a powerful status and a wave of triumph.The piece is sold unframed and signed at the bottom, where it’s witten: "Pétion, Christophe, Garat, Gerin, Capois, Vernet, Marie Jeanne see reunirent chez Dessalines pour entendre le plan de la bataille du 18 Novembre 1803 et aujourd'hui c'est 17 Nov 1803", meaning Pétion, Christophe, Garat, Gerin, Capois, Vernet, Marie Jeanne see met at Dessalines to hear the plan of the battle of November 18, 1803 and today is Nov 17, 1803.