Yale Center Seeks Identity of Black Child in Painting

October 7 2021

Image of Yale Center Seeks Identity of Black Child in Painting

Picture: TAN

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper have published an interesting piece of research being undertaken by the Yale Center for British Art Studies into the identity of a black child. The boy appears in A portrait of Elihu Yale with Members of His Family and an Enslaved Child (around 1719), attributed to John Verelst, from the center's collection.

According to the article:

Homing in on the depiction of the enslaved child, the YCBA’s research team enlisted a pediatrician to estimate the boy’s likely age, which was determined to be around 10, says Martin. Drawing on records from the early 1700s, the curatorial investigators note that it was then routine to ship boys of African descent under 10 years of age to Britain to serve as domestic servants in affluent households. The child would probably have served as a so-called page in the household of one of the men depicted.

Regularly readers might remember this brief story I published last October, showing results from a similar piece research into a seventeenth century picture from Warwick Castle.

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