This pottery figure group depicts Uncle Tom and Little Eva, the central characters from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852, just a few years before the outbreak of the Civil War. The book was a runaway success in both the United States and and Britain. Figures such as these were produced in huge numbers by the Staffordshire pottery industry. The story of Uncle Tom publicized the suffering of enslaved Black Americans and generated huge support for the abolitionist movement. However, because of the passive acceptance by the main character of his situation, the phrase 'Uncle Tom' gradually became an insult within Black communities. Staffordshire earthenware small group of ‘Uncle Tom and Little Eva’, circa 1852-55. Similarly modeled to HD 2021.33.14, Figure of Uncle Tom wearing a floral garland around the neck of his green jacket and gilt-striated white shirt, his white trousers with maroon stripes and orange squiggles, holding his yellow hat in his left hand, and seated with his right arm around Little Eva standing on his right thigh and wearing a blue bodice and slippers and a colorfully sprigged and dotted skirt, the ground streaked in brown above a gilt line on the front of the oval base. 4⅞ in. h. Condition: Good other than wear to the gilding on the base.
slavery; enslaved persons; antislavery movements; racism
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