Mar 01, 2012 - Sale 2271

Sale 2271 - Lot 106

Price Realized: $ 72,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 80,000
(ART.) [FITZGERALD, EDWARD]. The Slaves. Contemporary oil copy of Fitzgerald's painting, 30x25-1/8 inches. The painting bears several small (1/4 inch) areas of restoration, only visible under black light. They appear on the shoulder of the older slave (male?), and on the cheek and chin of the younger (Female?) slave. Re-varnished at an earlier time, otherwise in good, clean condition with an undisturbed surface, and clean linen canvas back; on its original stretcher bars. London, circa 1830's-1850's.

Additional Details

a rare contemporary copy of an iconic image, originally painted by the artist and poet edward fitzgerald (rubaiyat of omar khayyam) (1809-1883). Fitzgerald's "Slaves" is one of several notable images produced during the period of intense activism to abolish slavery in the West Indies. The original was probably painted sometime in the early 1830's, quite probably before1833, when slavery in the West Indies was abolished. "The Slaves" takes its place as abolitionist art along with Phillip Simpson's "Captive Slave," (1828) and Henry Thompson's "Boorum Slave (1827). It is said of the former work, that Wiliam Wilberforce would place it along side the dais during his anti-slavery addresses. The pleading, upward cast of the eyes of Fitzgerald's "Slaves" is particularly moving. This painting was so popular amongst the abolitionists that a chromolithograph was made of it. Additionally, inventor-artist George Baxter made a number of what he called his "Baxterotypes" of the image: a complex process, somewhat similar to the idea of today's "giclee." A copy of one of these "Baxterotypes" was sent to the 1853 Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York, where abolition was the theme of several exhibits. Only the year before, Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin had been a runaway best-seller. According to Karen Dalton, associate editor Harvard's Image of the Black in Western Art (Harvard University Press, 1979-2010), "three similar paintings were produced at that time (the 1830's); one now resides in Wilberforce House in Kensington-upon Hull. A print (presumably a Baxterotype") also resides at the British Museum. Provenance: personal collection of artist Merton Simpson.