An overseer smokes while watching two enslaved women work clearing a field
Original Author: Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Created: ca. 1798
Medium: Watercolor and pen on paper

An Overseer Doing His Duty near Fredericksburg, Virginia

An overseer stands atop a tree stump and enjoys a hand-rolled cigarette or cigar while he supervises two barefoot, enslaved women at work hoeing. Smoke rises from several of the tree stumps at right, as the field is being cleared of trees. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the English-born architect best known for designing the U.S. Capitol, painted this watercolor scene near Fredericksburg about 1798. Latrobe lived in Virginia for several years and kept two illustrated journals with accounts of his travels.