The Price of Blood
Thomas Noble’s the Price of Blood is one of the most symbolic paintings in the Morris Museum of Art. At first glance there isn’t much going on, but when you take a step back and really examine the painting you will see there is a much bigger story being told. The painting tells a story of greed, abandonment, and shows one of the darkest parts of slavery. The Price of Blood depicts a wealthy slave owner selling his mixed son into slavery hence the price of his blood. The sad thing is that this happened regularly in those days. Each character in the painting represents a different part of the story: the slave, slave trader, and the wealthy slave owning planter.
The first thing your eye catches when looking at The Price of Blood is this mixed man standing in a feminine pose. The slave’s strange pose is reminiscent of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. When you look at his facial features compared to the older gentleman sitting in the chair you realize that they are father and son. The son is being sold into slavery by his father/master. This abandonment is foreshadowed by the painting on the wall of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Having a picture of Abraham says a lot about what’s going on in the painting because Abraham abandoned Ishmael, a son he had with his servant Hager. The soon to be slave looks as if he isn’t hurt at all, but that he expected to be sold.
In the painting the slave trader is reading over a contract with great concern on his face, but the concern is not for the boy he is about to purchase but for the deal he is making, whether it’s a good one or not. The trader has almost no morals; all he cares about is making money no matter whose life is ruined by it. The trader’s hand rests precisely next to the stack of gold coins on the table. The coins represent the price of the slave’s blood, which is where the title of the painting comes from. This came from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character Cassy from Uncle Tom’s...