Slavery pictures

One of the most formative periods in Eyre Crowe’s life was the six months he spent in America in 1852-1853, accompanying William Makepeace Thackeray on his lecture tour of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, Charleston and Savannah. The streets of the South, teeming with black slaves, were very different to anything so far encountered by him, and the picturesque nature of the scenes, combined with his horror at the trading of human flesh, inspired Crowe to sketch prodigiously and, later, to turn many of the subjects into finished oil paintings. He produced paintings and sketches based on his journey immediately on his return, and also made use of his experiences to help illustrate the growing crisis of the U.S. Civil War in 1861. Maurie D. McInnes has just published Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade (Chicago University Press, 2011), which is a detailed and lavishly illustrated examination of Eyre Crowe’s pictures, as compared with other contemporary artworks relating to slavery in the American South.

See also McInnis, Maurie D. “Eyre Crowe’s Images of the Slave Trade.” Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 4 Sep. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.

Crowe himself wrote about his experiences in the autobiographical With Thackeray in America, published in 1893. The book contains many of his original sketches made during the trip. It has been digitised and is freely available on the Internet Archive website.

Browse the hyperlinked titles below to see more information about these pictures, and images and published reviews where these are available.

5 Responses to Slavery pictures

  1. I am doing a project on the living conditions of African Americans in Richmond about ten years before and after the civil war. I would like to know if I will be able to use the pictures from this site for free. Please contact me soon.


  2. Kathryn Summerwill says:

    Hi Jackie, Your project looks really interesting – I wish you all the best with it.
    Yes, you can use pictures from my site for free. Please credit my site as follows: Kathryn Summerwill, ‘Eyre Crowe, 1824-1910′ website (, accessed 19 April 2011), and also credit individual pictures with their full web address, e.g.
    Please note also that I do not own any of the original pictures, so you should also credit each picture with details about its ownership, and where it has been published. This information is given in the text accompanying each picture on my site.
    Best wishes, Kathryn

  3. […] intended to further the abolitionist cause. Each of these are described in more detail in the ‘Slavery Pictures’ part of this website. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  4. trout says:

    Kathryn, you will be interested to know that the Library of Virginia has discovered what they think to be a previously unknown Crowe painting of a Charleston slave auction. Its composition is a variation of the sketch in the Illustrated London News (at NYPL Digital Gallery:

    The painting is in the national museum in Cuba; LVA has made a life-size digital copy, a print of which is on display currently in their exhibit, To Be Sold (through spring, with a symposium March 21):

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