It depicts a naked slave, tied spreadeagle on his stomach, his butt in the air, being whipped by a black overseer while the master, his family, and other slaves watch.
The erotic energy and power usually associated with male nudity has dissipated, leaving only abjection and despair.
In Augustus Earle's Punishing Negroes at Cathabouco, Rio de Janeiro, the slave being whipped stands upright, displaying a muscular back and buttocks in defiance of the whip.
An illustration of a slave being punished by hanging, by Offert Dapper, emphasizes the muscularity of his arms and legs.
A slave market, from Bickwell's History of the West Indies as They Are (1835), contrasts the classical physique of the man being sold with the effete dandies examining him.
See also: Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Slave as an Object of Desire