Who resisted and campaigned for abolition?

Slave Trade

John Raphael Smith (1752-1812), after George Morland, 1791
Mezzotint print

Object number P.2009.4

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Slave Trade

This mezzotint print, after George Morland's painting, was a popular reproduction in abolitionist circles. The crudely propagandist image is not based on actual events but represents a dramatised scene of the selling of enslaved Africans. White slavers manhandle a pacified African man whilst a woman is shepherded meekly into a boat she will share with another weeping figure. The African trader to the left, negotiating with the slave ship’s captain, looks on with a cruel gaze. The unrestrained dog in the foreground, kept by the trader to keep his slaves in line, is in direct contrast to the shackled Africans. The animal is accorded more freedom than the men, women and children who are traded as commodities.

It was published in Paris in 1794, at the height of the French Revolution, to commemorate the abolition of slavery by the ruling National Convention:

'The National Convention declares the abolition of Negro slavery in all the colonies; in consequence it decrees that all men, without distinction of colour, residing in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights assured by the constitution'.

When Napoleon Bonaparte became First Consul of France in 1799, however, the ruling Consulate tried to undo what it saw as the excesses of the Revolution and in 1802 reintroduced slavery to France and her colonies. It was not abolished until 1848.

This information was provided by curators from The Whitworth Art Gallery.