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Sketch Relating to “Why Born Enslaved!” (recto)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux French

Not on view

On the back of a letter, Carpeaux made a cursory sketch for Why Born Enslaved! next to an illustration of a standing nude, seemingly drawn from the same model. With arms bound before the body, the figure’s pose recalls both the horrific imagery of women being sold into slavery at auction and representations of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda, from Greek mythology, who was chained to a rock in sacrifice to a sea monster. Iterations of the figure, bound in different ways, evidence Carpeaux’s fascination with the subject of enslavement. That he was one of many European artists to depict captive female figures during the post-emancipation period suggests that abolition provided a pretext for artists and their audiences to indulge in images of bondage.

Sketch Relating to “Why Born Enslaved!” (recto), Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie), Black crayon on blue grid paper, French

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