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Painting detail

St John Preaching in the Wilderness


St John Preaching in the Wilderness by Samuel Colman. 1822. In the foreground at the centre of this painting is the figure of a black man kneeling with his hands clasped, he is looking up at St John. It is likely that this figure represents the image of a kneeling black slave used by anti-slavery campaigners as their logo. The kneeling slave is asking for help from his white brothers. This image was widely used to raise support and awareness for the campaign, it appears on many items, from pamphlets through to china plates. The enslaved Africans were not as passive in their role as this symbol suggests, their continual fight against slavery was the main contributing factor to its abolition. The artist was probably making a political comment in his painting, by including this figure he is suggesting that he too is against the slave trade.

Creator: Samuel Colman

Date: 1822

Copyright: Copyright BCC Museum

Object ID:K4323

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