Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Print - Europe supported by Africa and America
  • Europe supported by Africa and America
    Blake, William, born 1757 - died 1827
  • Enlarge image

Europe supported by Africa and America

  • Object:


  • Date:

    1796 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Blake, William, born 1757 - died 1827 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

The Dutch captured the British colony of Suriname during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1667). Under the West India Company it was developed as a plantation slave society and became a primary destination for the Dutch slave trade. The brutal regime caused high mortality; despite the import of 300,000 slaves between 1668 and 1823, the population never grew beyond 50,000. ‘Maroonage’ became the major form of resistance. Fugitive slaves, or ‘maroons’, escaped inland to form permanent communities from where they waged a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the Dutch.

In 1774 the Scottish-Dutch soldier John Gabriel Stedman witnessed the brutal oppression of slaves during a campaign against the maroons, which he described in his Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam. The book, which included illustrations by William Blake, was adopted by abolitionists, though Stedman was thought to support reform rather than abolition.

This allegorical image is in the tradition of ‘The Four Continents’, in which the continents are depicted as female figures. Blake, the abolitionist, has included gold arm bands on the arms of Africa and America to symbolise their enslavement to the central figure of Europe. However, the fact that Europe is being physically supported by her companions suggests the possibility of a more equitable relationship.

Physical description

Print depicts a group of three nude standing women: a black woman to the left, a white woman at the centre and a dark-skinned woman to the right. The outside figures wear gold bands around their upper arms


1796 (made)


Blake, William, born 1757 - died 1827 (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 19.4 cm, Width: 14.1 cm

Descriptive line

'Europe supported by Africa and America', print by William Blake, 1796



Subjects depicted



Black History; Slavery & Abolitionism; Prints


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.