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Vote for us!

13 December 2018 by Sarah

Our ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ painting has been shortlisted for Art Fund Wok of the Year 2018. Shown here as it was acquired, and before conservation work. Image courtesy of National Museums Liverpool.

Fantastic news! Our new painting ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ at the International Slavery Museum is on the shortlist of 10 works to be Art Fund Work of the Year 2018.

The annual poll aims to find the public’s favourite Art Funded work of the year, and to celebrate a year of helping museums and galleries acquire great art. You can help and support us by voting!

‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ is a significant acquisition for the Museum- and the UK.

It is the first painting in our collection to show the powerful and resonant iconography of abolition. The artwork dates from around 1800 and the artist is unknown. The foot of the canvas reads, ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’, a variation on the more common version, ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’.

The painting’s dominant motif is that of an enslaved African, kneeling, bound in chains and set against the backdrop of a Caribbean sugar plantation. This is based on a design commissioned by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade on 5 July 1787, which is considered to be one of the first instances of a symbol designed for a political cause and was used famously by the potter Josiah Wedgwood.

It is only the second known painting to exist featuring this motif – the only other being ‘The Kneeling Slave’ at the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull.

The painting is currently undergoing cleaning and restoration. Here you can see Senior Painting Conservator, David Crombie starting off that process.

As the abolitionist movement gained popular support, the motif was widely used for decorating men’s snuff boxes, ladies’ bracelets and hair pins, as well as household objects including milk jugs, sugar bowls and tobacco boxes.

Further enslaved people raise axes to the sugar cane in the background of the painting.

Curator Stephen Carl-Lokko, who made the acquisition, said:

“We’re so pleased to have been shortlisted for Art Fund Work of the Year 2018.

“This is a significant acquisition for the UK. While the image became an important symbol of the abolitionist movement, it also touches on the historical representation of enslaved Africans.

Look at the top left of the painting: you can already see how different it’s going to look after conservation. The painting is expected to go on display at the International Slavery Museum in Spring 2019.

“Although the image was designed to appeal to the sympathies of the British public in identifying with the cause of abolition, it also reflects the misconception of enslaved Africans as passive acceptors of their fate.

“In fact the opposite was true, enslaved Africans were the main instigators in their fight for freedom, with Black abolitionists such as Olaudah Equiano, Ottobah Cugoano and Mary Prince actively campaigning as part of the British abolitionist movement.

“We address this and put this into context for our modern audience and hopefully we can start a discussion with our visitors when they see this painting about the historical representation of Black people within art.”

The acquisition was made possible through a generous grant award by the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme.

All those who vote for their favourite artwork will be entered into a free prize draw, with the chance of winning a lifetime National Art Pass worth £1,850. Vote here for your favourite in the shortlist until 5pm on Saturday 15 December 2018.

 

Finishing touches to Murillo

5 December 2017 by Olympia Diamond

Installation of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory at the walker Art Gallery

Installation of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory (1673) at the Walker Art Gallery

The practical treatment of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory (1673) finished in August, marking the end of a year-long major conservation project, which you can track in my previous blog posts.

The final phase of treatment involved retouching damages and losses on the oil sketch and Virgin and Child in Glory (1673).

The dramatic history of the painting, including the cutting and removal of the central section of the Madonna and Child, meant that two pieces from the same artwork had separate histories, and thus visually aged differently.

Read more…

It begins! The conservation of Murillo’s Virgin and Child in Glory

16 March 2017 by Olympia Diamond

Detail image before treatment of Virgin and Child in Glory, c. 1673

Upon viewing Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory at the Walker, I admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by the subject staring down at me. However, after it arrived in our paintings conservation studio and was removed from its brightly gilded frame, the painting was subdued yet quietly powerful.  And in need of some care and attention…
Read more…

Revealing the dramatic history behind Murillo’s iconic altarpiece

22 November 2016 by Felicity

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s painted altarpiece, Virgin and Child in Glory (1673), has left the Walker Art Gallery for the first time since it was acquired in 1953.

The iconic work has travelled to our conservation studio where it will undergo major technical investigation work, funded by the Art Fund. This will be the first detailed conservation treatment to be carried out on the altarpiece since the early 1860s. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.