L'Abbatoire No. III

about 1967
Eldzier Cortor (American, 1916–2015)


Sheet: 53 x 77 cm (20 7/8 x 30 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Soft ground etching, aquatint, and flat bite, printed from two shaped plates in black and red

Not On View


Americas, Prints and Drawings



MFA owns copper plate (2012.1488)

In 1949, Cortor won a Guggenheim Fellowship to study the African diaspora in Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti, and spent much of that year teaching at the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince. He later learned that a number of his colleagues in Haiti had been murdered by that country’s dictatorial regime. His response to this experience was a series of prints, begun in 1955, titled L’Abbatoire (a variant spelling of the French word l’abattoir or Slaughterhouse). Based on his memories of an actual slaughterhouse in Port-au-Prince, these visceral woodcuts and etchings use the metaphor of slaughter to comment on man’s inhumanity to man. Some contain references to hooks, chains, and furnaces, while others conceal ghoulish, skeletal figures in the margins. In style, they range from literal, if Expressionist, depictions of animal slaughter to near abstractions that merely hint at blood, tendons, and torn flesh.


In graphite, below platemark: 15/100 "L'Abbatoire No. III" Eldzier Cortor


2012, year-end gift of the artist to MFA. (Accession date: February 27, 2013)

Credit Line

Gift of Eldzier Cortor in memory of Sophia Rose Cortor


Reproduced with permission.