by Eve M. Kahn
was published August 2, 2012.
“Artists before the Civil War took personal risks when portraying slaves. Southerners did not want their more abusive practices to be professionally documented.”
“In 1853 the British painter Eyre Crowe sidled into a slave auction house on a side street in Richmond, Va., and started to sketch white bidders eying a row of neatly dressed children, women and men with traces of fear and anxiety on their impassive faces.”
“’Slaves Waiting for Sale,’ Crowe’s 1861 painting based on the sketches, is suggestive of terrible suffering, as the mothers gaze fondly at their children for perhaps the last time. But unlike his abolitionist colleagues’ equally accurate depictions of torture, his tableau was wholesome enough to be widely exhibited. British critics at the time wrote that it aroused sympathy ‘without being too painful,’ the art historian Maurie D. McInnis points out in ‘Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade’ (University of Chicago Press).”
“Her new book is one of half a dozen recent studies of how African-Americans were historically depicted. Scholars are deciphering what artists were expressing and how sitters were probably feeling, along with how audiences reacted . . . “
For complete New York Times article, go to: http://nyti.ms/OOoZyL