Friday, August 17, 2007


I came across Power’s "Greek Slave", above, through a search for “Parian Ware” a medium in which I have recently completed a commission.
(see for a brief history)

Slavery and the history of slavery are not subjects I know a lot about, but it is a subject that crops up quite often in "browsing" Fine Art.

Many Painters and sculptors have depicted or illustrated the condition with their own agenda in mind. In my naivety, I like to believe they intended to stimulate the “male gaze syndrome” only to draw attention to the issue; to cause guilt in the male conscience and anger in the female one and a positive reaction in both.

Anyway, whatever you may think of their intentions some of these works are beautiful and the work well executed.

My school had a “house” named after Mr. Wilberforce and I post these images in recognition of this anniversary year when such suffering was abolished in the British Empire.

Lilli Wislicenus' "Captive"

The Abastenia St Leger Eberle, above named "White Slave", is as controversial now as it was when first exhibited in the 19th c. This was part of her protest against prostitution as well as the “accident” of White slavery in North America.

White Captive is a specially beautiful work as is the next one below

by a Scottish sculptor Thomas Clapperton

Slavery was not new, here is one example from Michelangelo

No other details on this one.

But can you help this blogger? See

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Blogger chris miller said...

Have you ever seen a slave depicted unattractively ? (i.e. not as some kind of cheesecake) ?

3:57 am  
Blogger Robert said...

Yes, I think Abastenia St Leger Eberle’s work that I have posted here is the point I am making, shocking even today.

The link at the bottom of the post has a photo of a sculpture of three black slaves. It depicts the horror of slavery but does not carry the same shock value.

Would a version depicting a haggard old man in chains carry any weight? I wonder if it would stir outrage or pity? I am not sure one would immediately associate it with slavery.

Choosing a beautiful woman or fit young man is more accurate and more attention grabbing.

I feel it is important to defend the Sculptor; he or she is making a political statement in my view, intended to appeal to our conscience not to other parts of our anatomy!

There a many paintings of this subject which also remind us of the integrity of the artist, the horror of slavery and the frailty of human nature.

There are all sorts of issues involved here but my blog is about Art not cheese-cake!

9:35 am  

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