'Shipping Sugar'

This print is taken from William Clark’s ‘Ten views in the island of Antigua, in which are represented the process of sugar making, and the employment of the Negroes’ (Thomas Clay, London, 1823). It shows the production of sugar, from planting to harvest, from processing to shipping. It depicts a group of well-dressed slaves planting sugar cane. After the cane was harvested and processed into raw sugar, it was loaded into barrels, known as hogsheads, and shipped to Britain for refining and sale.

The first sugar plantation was established in 1674 by Sir Christopher Codrington. By the end of the century, a plantation economy had developed, slaves were imported from Africa and the central valleys were deforested and replanted with sugar cane. To feed the slaves, Codrington leased the neighbouring island of Barbuda from the British Crown and planted it with food crops. As Antigua prospered, the British built fortifications around the island, turning it into one of their most secure bases in the Caribbean. The military could no secure the economy, however, and in the early 1800s the sugar market began to bottom out. With the abolition of slavery in 1834, the plantations fell apart.

Although the slave trade had been abolished by the time of Clark’s visit, slavery itself still existed. Yet his images, intended for publication in Britain, showed nothing of the suffering of the enslaved and, if taken at face value, would have given quite the wrong impression of slave conditions to the British public.

Object Details

ID: PAH3019
Collection: Fine art
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Infant School Depository; Clark, W.
Places: Antigua and Barbuda
Date made: 1823
Exhibition: The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire; Enslavement and Resistance
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 266 mm x 374 mm; Image: 235 mm x 350 mm; Frame: 450 mm x 603 mm; Mount: 405 mm x 555 mm

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