Slavery, a "Scandal to Christian Nations": Charles Darwin, Augustus Earle and the compass of morality

Thomas, Sarah (2009) Slavery, a "Scandal to Christian Nations": Charles Darwin, Augustus Earle and the compass of morality. In: Hoorn, Jeanette, (ed.) Reframing Darwin: evolution and art in Australia. Carlton, Australia : Victoria Miegunyah Press. ISBN 9780522856842

Full text not available from this archive.


When Augustus Earle was appointed Artist Supernumerary on board the Beagle in 1831, he had already travelled to all continents of the globe, and had painted a great diversity of people. Commissioned to paint the portraits of colonial aristocracies of such cities as Rio de Janeiro and Sydney, Earle was also at pains to portray those at the other end of the social spectrum: Afro-Brazilian slaves, convicts, and indigenous people. His passionate abolitionist views are revealed in paintings of Brazilian slave markets and vivid scenes of corporal punishment: at their heart lies a belief in slavery's essential inhumanity, and in Christianity's redemptive potential. By the time Earle met Darwin in 1831, his worldly experience had firmed his views about slavery and race. The twenty-two year old Darwin had only just finished his formal education when he was invited to join the voyage of the Beagle, and the two men became firm friends. This chapter explores the friendship between the young naturalist and the seasoned 'wandering artist' some sixteen years his senior, focussing in particular on some of the moral and socio-political debates which divided Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Augustus Earle, travelling artists
Research Area: History of art, architecture and design
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (until 2017)
Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (until 2017) > School of Art & Design History
Depositing User: Susan Miles
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2015 10:19
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2015 10:19

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page