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Ten Little Nigger Boys

  • Object:

    Illustration

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thompson, G. H. (artist)
    Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and watercolour on card

  • Museum number:

    RENIER.358

  • 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.

G. H. Thomspon produced this illustration for the nursery rhyme, Ten Little Nigger Boys, published by Ernest Nister in London and E. P. Dutton & Co. in New York, ca.1900. The nursery rhyme is a counting rhyme, beginning with ten little boys and ending with one. This drawing illustrates the verses:

'Three little nigger boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one, and then there were two.'

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

Physical description

Pen and ink and watercolour drawing on stiff card depicting three young black boys of African heritage in a zoo. One boy is being picked up by a large brown bear standing on its hind legs. The other two boys run away. In the background are two giraffes. Mounted on card.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

ca.1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Thompson, G. H. (artist)
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 by Anne Renier in ink on verso: 'AR'

Inscribed in blue crayon on verso: '12/12', '8284', 'XXIV' and '85'

Inscribed in pencil on verso: '10 Little Nigger Boy' and 'G. H. Thompson'

Initialled by artist in bottom right corner: 'H.T.'

Dimensions

Height: 337 mm Mount, Width: 380 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 G. H. Thompson ca.1900 for 'Ten Little Nigger Boys' 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

Watercolour drawing by G. H. Thompson, ca.1900; produced to illustrate 'Ten Little Nigger Boys' published by Ernest Nister.

Materials

Pen and ink; Watercolour; Card

Techniques

Drawing

Subjects depicted

Bears; Zoos; Black History; Boys; Children (people by age group); Giraffes

Categories

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

Production Type

Unique

Collection

National Art Library

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