The Slave Market  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Slave markets enjoyed popularity in art, particularly in the Orientalist paintings of the 19th century. A typical scene would often contain depictions of white slavery in which one or several nude females would be displayed before an audience of men as part of a slave auction. The archetypal example of this type of scene is Jean-Léon Gérôme's The Slave Market, in which a nude female slave is examined by a potential buyer. The Slave Market is the title of a number of paintings. There is one by 19th century artist Gustave Boulanger and one by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Gustave Boulanger

The Slave Market[1] is a painting by 19th century artist Gustave Boulanger. It depicts a Roman slave auction and appears to be intended to show the horror, and perhaps the erotic aspects, of the idea of human beings being for sale. It shows the marketing of seven young people, ranging in age from children to young adults, as slaves. All three male slaves, as well as two of the female slaves, bear a similarity in appearance perhaps suggesting that they are members of a family forced into slavery by economic conditions. All are wearing tags to indicate their availability as slaves. The taller, standing, young woman is wearing a translucent garment which clearly shows her breasts and pubic hair--she is trying to shield her eyes, perhaps because her potential buyers include former friends and neighbors, who are probably seeing her nude for the first time. The auctioneer adds to the sense of horror with his very casual attitude.

Jean-Léon Gérôme

The Slave Market (Gérôme)[2] is a painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme. It depicts a a typical scene of white slavery in which a nude female slave is examined by a potential buyer.

See also

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