1765 SLAVERY - ABOLITIONIST. Fine Watercolour of Granville Sharp's Call to Abolitionism.

1765 SLAVERY - ABOLITIONIST. Fine Watercolour of Granville Sharp's Call to Abolitionism.

Regular price
Sale price

A wonderful 1904 original watercolour of an important moment in the development of the abolitionist movement in England.

Born in 1735, Sharp's father and grandfather were both ministers. He, however, pursued business and became quite wealthy as a linen draper. Then, in 1765, his faith, his knowledge of what it meant to experience a "calling," and a cruelly discarded slave named John Strong all collided in a moment that would change his life. 

Walking home one evening, he found Strong languishing, bruised and beaten, in an alley. Strong had just arrived in London from Barbados under the transport of his "owner," and apparently had not found favor. He had been horribly wounded by his purchaser, and then discarded with the trash.

Sharp's heart was not just moved for Strong, but began to warm to his life's work. He took Strong to the hospital where he insisted he be treated. Sharp paid for his four months' recovery and then helped him locate employment. Once recovered, his previous "owner" hired two kidnappers to steal Strong back, now perceiving him to financially valuable again. Sharp intervened once more, hiring a lawyer and taking the man to court. John Strong won. This was 1768, and it is believed to be the first time a court ruled in favor of black litigant in England. 

Sharp then heard of four similar cases. He engaged his lawyer to pursue those four as well. One of these cases resulted in an important legal precedent, proclaiming that "once any slave sets foot on English soil, he is a free person." This was the first faltering, but important step toward the total abolition of slavery. 

Sharp soon became friends with Thomas Clarkson and together they founded an anti-slavery society, which would see among its ranks William Wilberforce, and others. 

The present work depicts that seminal moment with John Strong. It was produced by late 19th and early 20th century illustrator, A. C. Woodville for Scottish Publishers, H. & R. Chambers of Edinburgh and is likely published in one of their volumes. 

10.5 x 13.5 inches, watercolor, heightened with white on board and is signed, "A. C. Woodville, 1904. 

Unframed. Very good condition.