The curé of Agana, Guam, taking his ease

The curé of Agana, Guam, taking his ease

Wednesday, Nov 11, 2020

Jacques Arago, artist on board Freycinet’s Uranie during the French circumnavigation of 1817-20, drew this intimate portrait of brother Ciriaco, the curé in Agana, the capital of Guam, during the visit there of the Uranie expedition between March and June 1819. He titled it  “M le curé d’Agana en petit negligé”. It’s a witty and charming portrait of a figure who likely expected to be taken more seriously: the cleric is shown in his “at home” attire, his petit negligé, smoking. His relaxed stance, dressed in a vest and daringly striped leggings. is further enriched by the addition of the most delicate slippers.

The Freycinet expedition stayed for a long time in Agana where they were well received by the Spanish Governor Don Jose Medinilla. Agana (modern Hagåtña) is the capital of Guam and perhaps surprisingly it is today the westernmost state or territorial city of the United States, despite its modern population numbering only about a thousand.

See more about the portrait here, and about Arago’s reports in his various books on the curé’s considerable shortcomings, as well as the primitive state of religion in the Marianas and the notably pragmatic approach to questions of morality in Agana itself.

See our stock of work by Jacques Arago here