Date: 19th century
Accession number: A5881
Material: wood & paint
Measurements: whole: 640 x 375 mm
Figures like these were used as signs by tobacco vendors from the 17th century onwards. Many enslaved Africans worked on plantations producing tobacco for the American and European markets. Dressed in tobacco leaves, the carved figure represents the view of many Europeans that Black people were uncivilised. This belief was used to justify the slave trade by those who profitted from it. Blacks who came to London during the 18th century, such as Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano, wrote about their experiences of enslavement. They dispelled the myth that Blacks were inferior to Whites and highlighted the inhumanity of slavery.