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Ten Little Nigger Girls

  • Object:

    Illustration

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cubitt, Edith Alice (artist)
    Gunston, Audley (water-colourists)
    Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and watercolour on card

  • Museum number:

    RENIER.266

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ernest Nister (1842-1909) began his publishing career in 1885 when he acquired a lithographic workshop in Nürnberg and printed books for London publishers. In 1888 he became a publisher in his own right with offices at 24 St. Bride Street, London. He appointed the writer and editor, Robert Ellice Mack, as director.

Nister specialised in high quality colour printing for children in the last quarter of the 19th century. Movable books with various mechanisms became his speciality after 1890 (when be published his first stand-up book) but he also produced numerous picture books, annuals, poetry, nursery rhymes, calendars and greetings cards. He worked with a core of writers, including Clifton Bingham and Robert Ellice Mack, and illustrators, in particular Eveline Lance, Harriett M. Bennett, Edith A. Cubitt and Rosa Petherick.

Edith A. Cubitt produced this pen and ink drawing (hand-coloured by A. Gunston) for the nursery rhyme, Ten Little Nigger Girls, published as an 'untearable' book by Ernest Nister in London and E. P. Dutton & Co. in New York, and printed in Bavaria in ca.1895. The nursery rhyme is a counting rhyme, beginning with ten little girls and ending with one.

This genre, which also included Ten Little Nigger Boys, was popular at the end of the 19th century.

Physical description

Pen and ink drawing, hand-coloured with watercolour, on stiff card depicting four young black girls of African heritage having tea in a parlour. Three girls sit around a round table; one girl sits on a low red pouffe in front of the fireplace. The kettle on the fire is boiling over and steam pours onto the little girl sitting on the pouffe. The other girls are stunned; the girl on the right of the table pours tea from the tea-pot onto the white table-cloth and the girl in the middle holds her cake to her mouth. The girl on the left of the table bends down to try to help the girl on the pouffe. The tea-set is blue and white; a tea-cup and saucer and plate with cake on it sits on the clay-tiled floor beside the girl on the pouffe. A framed picture is fixed to the wall behind the girls sitting at the table. There is a vase, several jars and a clock on the green shelf above the fireplace. The girls wear brightly coloured dresses; some wear bows in their hair and large gold loop ear-rings. Mounted on cardboard.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

ca.1895 (made)

Artist/maker

Cubitt, Edith Alice (artist)
Gunston, Audley (water-colourists)
Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and watercolour on card

Marks and inscriptions

Bookplate on verso reads: 'From the Library of Anne Renier and F.G. Renier'

Initialled in ink by Anne Renier on verso: 'AR'

Inscribed in blue crayon on verso: 'XXVII 12/12', '8772' and '25'. '26' is crossed out.

Inscribed in ink on mount edge verso: '8772'

Inscribed in ink on verso: 'Pen & ink by Cubitt colored by Gunston'

Dimensions

Height: 340 mm Mount, Width: 390 mm Mount

Object history note

NB The term "nigger" has been used to describe people of black (sub-Saharan) African heritage. From the 1800s it carried strong derogatory intent. The term is repeated here in its original historical context.

Drawn by Edith A. Cubitt and hand-coloured by A. Gunston in ca.1895 to illustrate verses in Ten Little Nigger Girls published by Ernest Nister. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1970 by Anne Renier and Fernand G. Renier as part of the Renier Collection.

Descriptive line

Pen and ink drawing by Edith A. Cubitt, hand coloured by A. Gunston, ca.1895; illustration for the nursery rhyme, 'Ten Little Nigger Girls', published by Ernest Nister.

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

'Ten Little Nigger Girls' (London: Ernest Nister; New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., ca.1895)
Nister series no.: 1268a

Materials

Pen and ink; Watercolour; Card

Techniques

Drawing; Hand-colouring

Subjects depicted

Black History; Children (people by age group); Chairs; Tea services; Tea; Tea parties; Girls; Fireplaces; Kettles; Tables (support furniture)

Categories

Drawings; Illustration; Children & Childhood; Black History; Books; National Art Library

Production Type

Unique

Collection

National Art Library

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