Thomas Satterwhite Noble (1835-1907): Reconstructed Rebel
Fleming, Tuliza Kamirah
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Thomas Satterwhite Noble was a Southerner, a member of slave-owning family, a confederate soldier, and an artist who painted history paintings relating to slavery and freedom in the United States. Between 1865 and 1870, Noble created a series of paintings that directly confronted white America's ambivalent feelings with regard to the issues of slavery, emancipation, and integration--earning him the moniker "reconstructed rebel." The American Slave Mart, 1865 was the first monumental treatment of a slave auction by an American painter and effectively launched his career as an artist of national recognition. Noble was strongly influenced by his French teacher and mentor, Thomas Couture, and his seminal painting Decadence of the Romans when he painted The American Slave Mart. Two years later, buoyed by his success of his first history painting, Noble created the contemporary history paintings Margaret Garner and John Brown's Blessing. Both paintings featured individuals who risked themselves and those they loved in the pursuit of freedom and liberty. In 1868 Noble The Price of Blood, A Planter Selling His Son, a painting which revealed the Southern practice of slave owners selling their slave/children for profit. In 1870, Noble painted a simplified replica of The American Slave Mart titled, The Last Sale of Slaves in St. Louis. This painting was created at a very difficult time in the artist's career and represents a desire for him to be seen as part of the greater Cincinnati community. Thomas Satterwhite Noble: A Reconstructed Rebel examines how Noble's African American imagery reflected and interpreted issues concerning slavery in the upper South, the internal slave trade, miscegenation, and abolition. This study shifts the scholarly emphasis on Noble's oeuvre from discussions relating to the manner in which African Americans were portrayed before and after slavery to how these images were perceived by contemporary reconstruction audiences.