Slaves Waiting for SaleAbolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade

Slaves Waiting for SaleAbolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade

Maurie D. McInnis

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226559339

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In 1853, Eyre Crowe, a young British artist, visited a slave auction in Richmond, Virginia. Harrowed by what he witnessed, he captured the scene in sketches that he would later develop into a series of illustrations and paintings, including the culminating painting, Slaves Waiting for Sale, Richmond, Virginia. This book uses Crowe’s paintings to explore the texture of the slave trade in Richmond, Charleston, and New Orleans, the evolving iconography of abolitionist art, and the role of visual culture in the transatlantic world of abolitionism. Tracing Crowe’s trajectory from Richmond across the American South and back to London—where his paintings were exhibited just a few weeks after the start of the Civil War—the author illuminates not only how his abolitionist art was inspired and made, but also how it influenced the international public’s grasp of slavery in America. With almost 140 illustrations, the book brings a fresh perspective to the American slave trade and abolitionism as we enter the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.