President Florvil Hyppolite

President Florvil Hyppolite.png

Dublin Core


President Florvil Hyppolite


This is a portrait of President Florvil Hyppolite, an important Haitian president by Hector Hyppolite (no relationship between the two).


Hector Hyppolite was born in 1894 in Saint Marc and died of a heart attack in 1948 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hyppolite was not only a talented artist, he was also a vodou priest (hougan), housekeeper, and decorator(1). Over 200 artworks by Hyppolite shared his culture and religion of vodou, by portraying lwa’s (vodou spirit)(2), legends, etc. These artworks showed his strong belief and love for his religion. When it came to painting portraits, being that their was a lack of artistic materials; Hyppolite made his brushes out of chicken feathers. Hyppolite was a very talented painter whose art was a way to express his religion as well as showing the strength of Haiti.
Surprisingly there is no relationship between the artist and the Haitian president. However, it is quite an interesting coincidence for the two individuals.
Based on the title, it is clear that this is a portrait of President Florvil Hyppolite. Hector Hyppolite uses very vibrant colors in both the individual and in the flowers, specifically focusing on the colors of the Haitian flag. Hyppolite uses flowers, specifically Hibiscus as a frame that draws attention to the central figure. The use of flowers could signify fertility which is unusual to be depicted in a male portrait. Male portraits in the United States emphasize their power, strong-physical structure, surrounded by mainly the workplace, exemplified by John F. Kennedy’s White House portrait. However, Hyppolite does the exact opposite. There are many elements in this painting that point to the Haitian flag and its importance. For one, the colors of the president’s shirts are red and blue. As well as the red and blue feathers below President Hyppolite. On the Haitian flag, the blue stripe represents the African slaves and their journey to Haiti. The red stripe represents the mixed races and ancestry(3). In addition, the red and blue feathers below President Florvil resemble the flags on the Haitian flag. The flower in the center of the feathers may not have any resemblance to a palm tree. However, Hyppolite could have had the flower in mind to show the strength and resilience of the Haitian people and their culture.
Researching the meaning behind this specific painting led to the detailed significance and historic ideas behind the portrait by Hector Hyppolite. President Florvil is whom takes the place of the palm tree in between the six, red and blue feathers. Not only are the red and blue colors associated with the Haitian people, they are also related to the colors of Ogou. Ogou is a vodou spirit who has relation with military power(4). Could this have any relationship to the fact that Hector Hyppolite being a vodou priest?
In every piece of artwork there is a story that artist is trying to tell, whether or not the viewers interpret the painting in the exact same way intended. Hector Hyppolite was a very talented and hardworking man. Throughout his artwork, a Haitian voice was always heard whether it was expressing his vodou religion or the richness of his culture.

1. Hoffman, L. G. Haitian Art: “The Legend and Legacy of the Naïve Tradition”. Davenport, IA: Published for the (Davenport Art Gallery by Beaux Arts Fund Committee, 1985), 237.

2. "Vodou." Canadian Museum of History. Accessed April 02, 2016. <>.

3. Ross, Phillip. "Haitian Flag Day History 2015: The Real Meaning Behind The Country's Red And Blue Stripes." International Business Times. 2015. Accessed April 03, 2016. <>

4. Hayes, Anne Marie, and Michelle Robinson. 2001. “Instructional Resources Haitian Art: Exploring Cultural Identity”. Art Education 54 (1). National Art Education Association: 25–32.


Hector Hyppolite


Ca. 1945-47


Oil and pencil painting (portrait)

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

30 x 24"



Hector Hyppolite, “President Florvil Hyppolite,” Omeka, accessed July 16, 2018,