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Decorative Arts

On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Landscape/Colony to Nation, 5th Floor

Inscribed "AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?" this small medallion was a potent early emblem of the anti-slavery movement in England and the United States in the late eighteenth century. Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the famous pottery bearing his name, was one of the original members of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. These medallions were distributed free of charge to supporters of the cause—who had them mounted on snuffboxes or made into jewelry. In 1788 Wedgwood sent a quantity of these medallions to Benjamin Franklin, who was president of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery.

MEDIUM Tinted stoneware
DATES after 1786
DIMENSIONS 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (3.2 x 3.2 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Impressed on back: "WEDGEWOOD"
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
CREDIT LINE Gift of Emily Winthrop Miles
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CAPTION William Hackwood (died 1836). Medallion, after 1786. Tinted stoneware, 1 1/4 x 1 1/4 in. (3.2 x 3.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Emily Winthrop Miles, 55.9.25v. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 55.9.25v_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Circular medallion, unframed, terracotta bas-relief on basalt, of kneeling (on one knee) Negro slave with wrist and ankles locked in chains. The figure (unclothed except loin cloth) in three-quarter profile facing right, hands held up to level of his face in supplication. Around edge of field is printed in relief "Am I not a man and a brother?" Condition: Excellent
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