Slaves Fighting, Brazil, ca. 1820-24

Painted by Augustus Earle (1793-1838); original in National Library of Australia, Canberra (nla.pic-an2822650)

This picture is Water colour on paper and is entitled “Negroes fighting, Brazils.” Although the word “fighting” is in the artist’s title, the men’s body movements are those of Capoeira, a martial art practised by the enslaved in dance form. Several onlookers are shown, including a woman carrying an infant, and a policeman/soldier approaching the scene; note the drum shown by the seated man, the source of music for this performance. Augustus Earle, an English painter, lived in Rio de Janeiro from 1820 to 1824.

Slaves Fighting, Brazil, ca. 1820-24; Image Reference IMG03, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.