Two Jamaican Girls

WAG 3140


John visited Jamaica in 1937 when it was still a British colony. His stay coincided with the first stirrings of serious revolts against poor wages and working conditions. When John arrived, he was mistaken for a visiting politician. John sympathised with the Jamaican people, but his opinions and attitude could be considered patronising today. The island was a great inspiration to him. He made many observant paintings of the women and hotel workers that he met there, including this celebrated example. Here, the young woman in front appears bored while her companion seems apprehensive in John’s presence. John painted these girls whilst on a trip to Jamaica in 1937. Their names are unknown. He liked to work quickly and applied his paint very thinly. The black outlines he sketched as a guide show through under the yellow paint of the girl on the left. In places it is even possible to see the canvas through the paint.