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Title: Antislavery and British painting of the black, 1760 to 1841
Author: McCrea, Rosalie Smith
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 0106
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2001
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Modern historians of the British Atlantic Slave Trade and its abolition are legion. The leading scholars have long established that the campaigns to abolish the African Slave Trade and colonial plantation slavery was, for many Britons, bringing the "City of Men" closer to the "City of God". Parliamentarians responded to Wilberforce's proposition that abolishing slavery was a necessary act of atonement. This virtuous and magnificent measure, to adopt the words of Pitt, contained, at its heart, a religious and nationalist character together with a philosophy of moral and material optimism. Antislavery cut across different ranks, uniting various classes within the British population. This thesis gathers together and catalogues works pertaining to Slavery and to the representation of the Black from the period 1760 to 1841 and, to a lesser degree, prints and artefacts that were produced with Abolition and Slavery in mind. It is mainly concerned with the distribution of genres in which Slavery and Emancipation as themes were located. The thesis aims to demonstrate the relationship between Abolitionist rhetoric and the most emulated principles in art theory at the time, and to show how British artists applied their understanding of these principles to the service of visually representing the black figure. The thesis explores the ambiguous and nuanced modulations in paintings where the black subject and the black model were concerned. Readings provide evidence to show that, between 1760 and 1841, Blacks appeared in the main genres as free subjects, models, fictional characters and marginal presences. The Appendix to the thesis reveals that while the themes of "Slavery" and "Emancipation" were rarely explored as artistic themes, a new and consistent engagement with the black subject and the black model was employed for the main traditional high art genres as well as for the popular print and artefact trades. This would suggest that as Antislavery appealed to a wide spectrum of classes in Britain, paintings, (sculpture, prints and artefacts) representing Blacks were produced and directed towards diverse class interests and markets. Blacks were given the most liberating dispositions in History and Subject Painting. Stereotypical and demeaning postures are frequently observed in the genres of Portraiture and to a lesser degree in History and Subject Painting. A social method of art history is employed to support the data accumulated because this method works from the perspective that visual productions played a role in culture equal to historical events. The Thesis seeks to address a gap in British Art Historical scholarship on race and representation by including a catalogued Appendix of all the works encountered during the process of research.
Supervisor: Pointon, Marcia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available