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 group of ‘Uncle Tom and Little Eva’, circa 1852-55. Figure of Uncle Tom wearing a garland of flowers around the neck of his gilt-edged white jacket and shirt, and maroon-striped white trousers, 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 yellow scarf, a white bodice, a flowered skirt and pink-bordered pantaloons, the base inscribed in black "UNCLE TOM" above a gilt line around the front. 10⅝ in. h. Condition: The glaze crackled.
slavery; enslaved persons; antislavery movements
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