Yale Center for British Art
Print made by John Raphael Smith, 1752–1812, British

after George Morland, 1763–1804, British
African Hospitality
Materials & Techniques:
Mezzotint, printed in color, published state on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 22 1/4 x 29 1/4in. (56.5 x 74.3cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Gallery Label:
John Raphael Smith published this pair (B19878.43.283 and B19878.43.284) of abolitionist engravings in February 1791, at the height of abolitionist fervor in Britain. Engraved after paintings by George Morland, the prints juxtapose a scene of European brutality with one of African benevolence. In the Slave Trade, an African family is torn asunder by white traders who forcibly separate a father from his wife and child. In African Hospitality, by contrast, a group of compassionate Africans rescue and care for a shipwrecked white family and other members of their crew. (Both narratives are elaborated in the verses inscribed underneath each image.) Like Bigg’s A Lady and her Children Relieving a Cottager, which was also published by Smith, Slave Trade and African Hospitality bear the influence of the eighteenth-century "cult of sensibility." Sensibility placed particular emphasis on the emotions, especially sympathy, as a guide to moral action. By highlighting the capacity of Africans to "feel . . . as Europeans would do," Morland’s compositions argued in forceful—albeit also highly Eurocentric—terms against the moral wrong of slavery.\n\n Gallery label for Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-10-02 - 2014-12-14)