Witnessing Slavery:
Art and Travel in the Age of Abolition

Sarah Thomas

Publicaton Date
September 2019
Standard Number
Yale University Press
320 pages, 267 x 216mm
164 color + b-w illus.

Gathering together over 160 paintings, watercolours, 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 traveller' 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.

About the author

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