UCL News


The Slavery Trail at the National Portrait Gallery

26 June 2007

Dr Caroline Bressey, UCL Geography, has curated a trail of portraits at the National Portrait Gallery to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

National Portrait Gallery

Dr Bressey has written explanatory paragraphs for 50 portraits she selected from the gallery's collections. The aim is to show how many of the people featured in the gallery benefited from the trafficking of Africans to the Americas. She also wanted to highlight those that fought to abolish the transatlantic slave trade, and to bring pictures of black people and their contributions to Britain more to the fore.

The trail includes a wide range of portraits, from that of John Blanke, a trumpeter in the court of Henry VIII, to that of William Beckford, who owned a West Indian plantation which used slave labour. Also featured are abolitionists such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson, and former slaves such as Ignacius Sancho. The trail also highlights the black presence in Victorian Britain, with portraits of the West End actor, Ira Aldridge, and the pan-Africanist and composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Current black leaders, such as MP Diane Abbott, bring the trail up to the present.

The trail runs until 22nd July.

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.