|"The Arab Scribe" by J.F. Lewis, 1852|
|"The Bath" by J.L. Gerome, in the Legion of Honor, San Francisco|
|"Odalisque" by Max Nonnenbruch|
|"By order of the sultan" by Antonio Fabres|
|"Idle Moments" by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1875|
Vernet's picture shows slaves being sold amongst other merchandise. The bale of cotton tied up with rope may indicate the scene is in Egypt, which was a major cotton producer. The central male figure may be a buyer, but in the racially stratified Egyptian and Ottoman society of the time he is more likely to be working for or even owned by the slave dealer and there to show the slaves to prospective buyers - rather like the figure in Gerome's 1866 "Slave Market. Both the Vernet and Gerome figures have long canes which were symbols of authority over slaves. Nevertheless the scene is rather informal, as he has discarded his shoes and rests his hand on the head of the slave to the right. This may even be a sign of affection, although whether this naked girl whose life is about to handed over to whatever man pays a few coins for it may not see it that way.
I've also made this detail showing the steel bracelets and anklets worn by both female slaves in the foreground. They bear a striking similarity to those sold by Eternity Collars. In particular, it appears that the pale-skinned Circassian slave on the left has a steel ring on each of her wrists and ankles. I've written more about the symbolism of anklets for odalisques, wives, and slaves in a blog post.
Last modified 2 Dec 13, 10:38 PM by Tanos