‘Slave Trade, 1791’

Engraving by JR Smith after a painting by G Morland, 1788

Morland’s painting was produced and then distributed as a print, in support of the abolition campaign. It is a complicated composition which makes use of contrasting emotions to achieve its effects. Within the painting, individuals and their emotional reactions are set in juxtaposition. The misery of the African man in the boat contrasts with the callous attitude of the slaver behind him; the distress of the African child is contrasted with the indifference of the boy sailor etc. All these contrasts were intended to question the inhumanity of the slave trade.

© Museum of London

Accession reference: Museum of London, 2006.37