February 2nd, 2009
The 1853 oil painting by Eyre Crowe called After the Sale: Slaves Going South demonstrates what happens after the slave sales in Richmond, Virginia. The slaves are marched under escort of their new owners across town to the railway station where they went south. The slaves held on to their only possession, a bundle of clothing. This painting was exhibited at the Suffolk Street Gallery in London and is now owned by the Chicago Historical Society.
Eyre Crowe, a British painter was known for his historical paintings. Crowe had a great interst in social realism. He was criticized at the time of his paintings for choosing unappealing subjects and presenting them with such clarity. Crowe’s After the Sale: Slaves Going South was inspired his appalling eye witness account to the Richmond, Virginia slave trade. Richmond, Virginia was the largest slave auction. He did numerous paintings about his experiences with the Richmond slave trade including, Slave Auction at Richmond, Slaves Waiting for Sale, and American Scene.
Eyre Crowe’s work preserved part of America’s shameful, but yet honest history. Though his slavery paintings were frowned upon in his day, today they allow us to visualize first hand the inner workings of slavery.