Collection online

Description of a slave ship

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Description of a slave ship
  • Description

    Plan and cross-section of the slave ship "Brookes" of Liverpool. 1789 Woodcut

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1789
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 328 millimetres
    • Width: 444 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title and key
  • Curator's comments

    This is one of several prints produced from the same woodblocks showing plans and sections of the slave ship "Brookes" of Liverpool. A model of the ship was used by William Wilberforce in the House of Commons to demonstrate conditions on the Middle Passage. The woodcut was first produced in 1786 to illustrate various works by Thomas Clarkson, and was then distributed separately by abolitionists.
    This print so impressed Mirabeau in Paris that he had a wooden model (51 x 12 cm) made from it which survives in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal; this model was included in the exhibition "Images de la Révolution aux Antilles" at Fort Saint Charles in 1989, organised by the Société d'Histoire de la Guadeloupe, Basse Terre, illustrated as cat. no. 11.
    A PhD thesis has been written about this image by Cheryl Finley, 'Committed to Memory: the slave ship icon in the black Atlantic imagination', Yale 2002. See also Tim Barringer, Gillian Forrester, and Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz, 'Art and emancipation in Jamaica : Isaac Mendes Belisario and his worlds', Yale BAC 2007, p.299.


  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2001 May-Sep BM, P&D, Paper Assets (no cat.)
    2007 April-May, Hull, Ferens AG (Sth Bank Tour), Blake
    2007/8 Nov-Jan, Glasgow, Burrell Coll (Sth Bank Tour), Blake
    2008 Jan-April, Manchester, Whitworth AG (Sth Bank Tour), Blake
    2017 9 Mar-18 Jun, London, BM, G30, The American Dream

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Plan and cross-section of the slave ship "Brookes" of Liverpool. 1789 Woodcut


Plan and cross-section of the slave ship "Brookes" of Liverpool. 1789 Woodcut

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: PPA13562

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help