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Print - The Negro Revenged

The Negro Revenged

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (published)

  • Date:

    1807 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fuseli, born 1741 - died 1825 (after, artist)
    Raimbach (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving

  • Museum number:

    E.1201B-1886

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 4

  • Download image

This image by Henry Fuseli was produced both as an oil painting and as an engraving to accompany a book of poems by William Cowper. It was intended to illustrate one of the popular abolition ballads originally composed by Cowper in the spring of 1788. The ballad reflects a common belief that natural disasters which struck the land and seas around Britain’s slave colonies were divine retribution for the human suffering caused by the slave trade. A stanza is printed below the image:

‘Hark – He [God] answers. Wild tornadoes / Strewing yonder flood with wrecks, / Wasting Towns, Plantations, Meadows, / Are the voice in which he speaks.’

The portentous tone of the ballad is reflected in Fuseli’s image: dark clouds swirl above a stormy sea where a flash of lightening illuminates the hull of a wrecked slave ship. In the foreground a standing black male figure in a loincloth raises his fists in triumph. His dark-skinned female companion, in a white dress, curls one arm around his waist, the other stretches out in a gesture of warning. This image of defiance is remarkable amongst the majority of those produced by the abolitionist movement which more typically depict black Africans as passive victims.

Physical description

Engraving depicting a stormy scene and wrecked slave ship. A standing black man in a loincloth raises his fists in triumph. His female companion curls one arm around his waist, the other stretches out in a gesture of warning

Place of Origin

London, England (published)

Date

1807 (published)

Artist/maker

Fuseli, born 1741 - died 1825 (after, artist)
Raimbach (engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving

Marks and inscriptions

Above image:
The Negro revenged.
Under image:
Hark! he answers-Wild tornadoes,/Strewing yonder sea with wrecks;/Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,/ Are the voice with which he speaks.
Pub. by J.Johnson London March 1 1807
Bottom right:
H. Fuseli R.A. pinxit
Bottom right:
Raimbach scupt

Dimensions

Height: 19.8 cm, Width: 12.6 cm

Descriptive line

'The Negro Revenged', engraving by Henry Fuseli, 1807

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wood, Marcus. Blind Memory: Visual representations of slavery in England and America, 1780-1865. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000, p.40 & plate 3
NB: The term ‘negro’ was used historically to describe people of black (sub-Saharan) African heritage but, since the 1960s, has fallen from usage and, increasingly, is considered offensive. The term is repeated here in its original historical context.

Subjects depicted

Shipwrecks; Slave

Categories

Black History; Slavery & Abolitionism

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O127381
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