Slave Auction, Rio de Janeiro, 1858-1860


François-Auguste Biard, Deux Annèes au Brèsil (Paris, 1862), p. 95


Standing on a chair, the auctioneer, with his hammer, dominates the scene while an enslaved woman with a child clinging to her arm is examined by a prospective buyer; three other slaves are also shown, all of whom were ultimately sold. Various material goods, including household furniture and musical instruments, are being sold at the same auction (see also Biard05). Biard, a French painter, lived in Brazil for about two years, 1858-1860, and witnessed the scene depicted (pp. 97-98); the auction took place in a private home and these were the possessions, including the enslaved person, of the owner. Biard's published account contains a number of images of slave life, several of which are included on this website. For a detailed study of Biard and his Brazilian sojourn, see Ana Lucia Araujo, Brazil through French Eyes: A Nineteenth-Century Artist in the Tropics (University of New Mexico Press, 2015).

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