A collection of historical and genalogical records
A group of 13 paintings in the collection at Glasgow's prestigious Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was commissioned to wow the 19th century Scottish nouveau riche by depicting Bible stories and ancient history.
Yet the money that paid for the artworks' creation tells a much darker story: one of slavery, empire and decades of economic exploitation.
The paintings, including an Old Master which is currently on public display, have been housed in Kelvingrove since being donated by Cecilia Douglas, a wealthy Glaswegian widow, on her death in 1862.
Calls are being made to rake the paintings off display - but is this a good idea?
Gilbert Douglas, a West India merchant in Glasgow, who had large plantations in the Island of St. Vincent, married, In 1794, Cecilia Douglas, only surviving daughter of John Douglas, merchant in Glasgow. More about them can be read here: http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Places/douglaspark.htm
A news article can be read here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/news/home-news/the-paintings-s...
With commentary here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/the-art-of-forgivi...
One of the paintings, Still-life: Herring, Cherries and Glassware, Willem van Aelst, 1680, can be seen above. Another, Roman Women Offering Their Jewellery in Defence of the State by Vincenzo Camuccini, can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/roman-women-offer...
As Rosemary Goring points out, if we respond to calls to eradicate visible evidence of the benefits of slavery, however distasteful we find that slavery, then we will also be removing evidence of the crimes to humanity that took place. is that what we want?
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