Anti-Slavery: a creamware cylindrical tankard printed in black with a scene of a cudgelling (stick fighting) match between two Negros together with attendant figures within a border of exotic fruits, plants, a snake, an umbrella and centred by a figure wearing a fleur-de-lys crown, circa 1790, 145mm, the body cracked but away from the print.
* The scene depicted is a copy of the engraving by A. Brunias entitled 'A Cudgelling Match between English and French Negros in the Island of Dominica', published February 1779. See slaveryimages.org item number 1024.
The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade held its inaugural meeting on 22nd May 1787 and adopted, two months later, as a seal, an oval depiction of a chained slave entitled 'Am I not a man and a brother'. Similar medallions widely produced by Josiah Wedgwood became quite probably the first piece of anti-slavery memorabilia. See Victoria & Albert Museum number WE.7825-2014. This mug, drawing its inspiration from the engraving published some eight years earlier must also rank amongst the earliest of memorabilia produced to widen the understanding of and create support for anti-slavery.
Agostino Brunias was born in Italy in 1730 and came to England in 1758. A painter, he became acquainted with and subsequently personal artist to William Young who had been appointed to a government post in the West Indian territories. Following the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 Dominica was acquired by Britain from France. Brunias arrived in the islands in 1765 where he remained until about 1775 when he returned to England and where, in the late 1770s, he exhibited some of his paintings and also visited Europe. Returning to the West Indies in 1784 there he remained until his death on the island of Dominica in 1796. Although Brunias primarily resided in Dominica he also spent time in St. Vincent, and visited other islands, including Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts, and Tobago. His romanticized and idyllic painting of West Indian scenes and slave life is regarded today as some of the most informative imagery to be found.
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