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Porcelain Group of a Free Man and Woman

Louis Simon Boizot French

Not on view

Boizot designed this porcelain group and corresponding pair of prints in 1794, the year France abolished slavery following the insurrection of enslaved persons in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). They depict a free Black woman and man respectively adorned with a level and Phrygian cap, symbols of equality and liberty associated with the French Revolution. The inscriptions that accompany the figures express claims to equality and freedom in grammatically inaccurate French, "Moi égale à toi. Moi libre aussi" (Me equal to you. Me also free), reflecting the perceived difference between formerly enslaved people and French citizens. Black women and men are thus represented as subjects of a racially specific freedom, not as equal participants in the French nationalist project of liberty. While Haiti remained free, Napoleon Bonaparte restored slavery in France’s other West Indian colonies in 1802.

Porcelain Group of a Free Man and Woman, Louis Simon Boizot (French, Paris 1743–1809 Paris), Hard-paste biscuit porcelain, French

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