Witnessing Slavery Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition Sarah Thomas

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
10 Sep 2019
ISBN:
9781913107055
Imprint:
Paul Mellon Centre
Dimensions:
304 pages: 267 x 216mm
Illustrations:
168 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World

Categories:

A timely and original look at the role of the eyewitness account in the representation of slavery in British and European art

Gathering together over 160 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints, this book offers an unprecedented examination of the shifting iconography of slavery in British and European art between 1760 and 1840. In addition to considering how the work of artists such as Agostino Brunias, James Hakewill, and Augustus Earle responded to abolitionist politics, Sarah Thomas examines the importance of the eyewitness account in endowing visual representations of transatlantic slavery with veracity. “Being there,” indeed, became significant not only because of the empirical opportunities to document slave life it afforded but also because the imagery of the eyewitness was more credible than sketches and paintings created by the “armchair traveler” at home. Full of original insights that cast a new light on these highly charged images, this volume reconsiders how slavery was depicted within a historical context in which truth was a deeply contested subject.

Sarah Thomas is lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London.

“Thomas delivered an excellent volume in which she comprehensibly shows the great impact that visual culture had on the era of abolition and how contested images of eyewitness artists were used for the propaganda purposes of the pro- and anti-slavery movements.”—Annika Vosseler, Connections

“[A] lavishly illustrated and finely produced book… Thomas brings together several bodies of scholarship on the visual culture of slavery, travel, and imperial landscape.”—Esther Chadwick, Art History