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Esther Schreuder

The Slave in European Art: From Renaissance Trophy to Abolitionist Emblem

Edited by prof. Elizabeth McGrath (Warburg Institute) and prof. Jean Michel Massing (University of Cambridge)

Warburg Institute Colloquia, 20

(Editors: Jill Kraye and Charles Burnett)

The Warburg Institute – Nino Aragno Editore (London and Turin, 2012)

This volume explores the imagery of slaves and enslavement – white as well as black – in early modern Europe.

Long before the abolitionist movement took up the theme, European art abounded in images of slaves – chained, subjected, subdued figures. Often these enslaved figures were meant to be symbolic, for slavery was widely invoked as a metaphor in both religious and secular contexts. The ancient Roman iconography of triumphalism, with its trophies and caryatids, provided a crucial impetus to this imagery, particularly for Renaissance artists who developed their own variations. Here the use of classical models had a peculiar force, since nudity…

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