John Baptist da Silva (Tanzanian, 1937 – 2013)
Stone Town III, 2007
Signature ‘J.B. DA SILVA 07’ (middle lower)
Oil on canvas
25.5 x 20.5 cm
Ksh 80,000 – 120,000
(US$) 780 – 1,170
Provenance: private collection

John Baptist da Silva is renowned for his paintings and drawings that document the people, architecture and culture of Zanzibar.

Born in Portuguese Goa, Da Silva moved to Zanzibar as a child with his parents in 1947. As a young man, he worked as a clerk for the local registrar and took on his first major artistic project restoring the paintings and murals of the Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph, built by the French in 1898. Da Silva’s early paintings had been portraits of the people of Zanzibar, but this project turned his attention to the architecture of Stone Town. In his drawings, paintings and photographs, Da Silva recorded the built environment and studied the various influences on the architecture.

Through his artwork and research, Da Silva gained prominence as an artist and historian of Zanzibar, sharing his vast knowledge through walking tours of the Stone Town. His paintings and drawings are a valuable record of the fast-vanishing vernacular architecture.

Da Silva had several exhibitions in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. For his artistic and conservation work he received many accolades, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival.