Earthenware plate with engraved transfer of scene from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin- 'Little Eva Converting Topsy '



This plate is part of a group of four glazed Earthenware plates with engraved transfers of scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe's ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’. Published in 1853, the novel was extremely popular throughout the nineteenth century. It inspired various spin-off series, and it is broadly known for its antislavery themes. Subsequently, a great deal of visual material culture has been produced that depicts key scenes from the novel, including this series of plates. Scenes are bordered in a floral garland pattern, circa 1855-65. This plate, titled ‘Little Eva Converting Topsy’, depicts a specific form of racism called assimilation. The plate depicts an exchange between Eva and Topsy (an enslaved girl), which is supposed to reflect the moment in the novel where Topsy assimilates and becomes a ‘good’ child so that she can be loved by Eva and Ophelia St. Clare who owns her. This moment in the novel reflects the ways in which Eva, despite her position in the novel as a true liberal, still views the world through a colonial gaze that demands Topsy conform to Western behaviours and values. Scenes on other plates include: Poor Boy 'They Have Sold You' but Your Mother Will Save You Yet; Poor Boy 'They Have Sold You' but Your Mother Will Save You Yet '; Tom and Eva: Your Little Child is Your Only True Democrat; Eva Wreathing Tom.