Joseph Bartholomew Kidd (1808 - 1889) - The National Library of Jamaica

Joseph Bartholomew Kidd (1808 - 1889

J. B. Kidd was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1808. A landscape painter, he was one of the original associates of the Scottish Academy of Art, where he was a regular exhibitor.  “Cocoa nut walk on the Coast”

Between 1835 and 1843, Kidd visited Jamaica three times, where his older brother, Thomas Patrick Kidd was in business as a general merchant in Falmouth. During his visits he became enthralled with the Jamaican landscape and captured in pencil and paint Jamaica’s “superb and picturesque” scenery as he called it. He is also known to have done some portraits including sketches of slaves.

He then held a show of his paintings in Falmouth, which was said to be the first display of its kind ever seen in the colony. It was staged at his brother’s home and advertisements inviting the public were inserted in the Falmouth Post. It was very favourably reviewed in The Jamaican Standard, where the reviewer remarked on the rare occurrence of an artist excelling in both portraiture and landscape painting.


Savanah La Mar”

His Scottish and Jamaican landscapes were evidently much admired by the local gentry and he was often commissioned to paint scenes and portraits for them. 

Kidd’s paintings found ready purchasers, and with the success of his Jamaican works, he embarked on the most ambitious art publishing project originating in Jamaica at that time.

During 1836 he wandered around the island making sketches for his projected set of lithographed “West Indian Scenery. Illustrations of Jamaica, in a series of views comprising the Principal Towns, Public Buildings, Estates and most picturesque scenery of the Island… “.

“The Date Tree”

By September 1837, Kidd published Part I of his illustrations of Jamaica. The illustrations however, were unaccompanied by any descriptive text or notes.

The overwhelming success of the five plates in this series, led to the translation over the next four years of a total of fifty drawings and paintings done in Jamaica in lithographs.

The subjects of the series are varied, giving us a comprehensive view of the Jamaican environment in the last days of the pre-emancipation era. From individual studies of plants and trees to vast vistas of townscapes and estates, from much admired “beauty spots” to the unusual views of Kingston “from the Commercial Rooms”, we have been bequeathed a visual essay of Jamaica’s extraordinary beauty.

J. B. Kidd died in Greenwich, England in 1889.

This is a list of some of the lithographs done by  J. B. Kidd in his “West Indian Scenery. Illustrations of Jamaica…”:

  • “The Date Tree. Sugar Works in the Distance”
  • “The Parade and Upper part of Kingston from the Church. Looking towards the Port Royal Mountains”
  • “View of the Hope River. Near Dunsinane”
  • “Sketch of Bamboos and Cotton Tree”
  • “Cocoa nut walk on the coast near Runaway Bay”
  • “Mountain Cottage scene”
  • “City of Kingston from the Commercial Rooms. Looking towards the South”
  • “Lethe Estate on the Great River, St. James and Hanover”
  • “Savanah La Mar”