The Lady Lever Art Gallery Conserve and Redisplay Portrait

November 23 2021

Image of The Lady Lever Art Gallery Conserve and Redisplay Portrait

Picture: @LeverArtGallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Lady Lever Art Gallery in the Wirral have conserved and redisplayed Jean-Baptiste Santerre's 1705 Portrait of Catherine-Marie Legendre. The painting "is the only item in the gallery’s collection, from the 18th century, to depict a person of colour."

According to the gallery's website:

This disturbing portrait by Santerre is designed to impress by showing the sitter’s wealth and position in society. It shows a young boy, who is an enslaved African person, brought from a plantation to work as an unpaid house servant. He is wearing a decorative metal slave collar around his neck. His name is not known, but the sitter is Catherine-Marie Legendre (or Le Gendre, died 1749), the wife of French nobleman, Claude Pecoil (1629-1722), Marquise de Septème.  

The painting will be displayed with a label which asks: “Does this portrait belong on the walls of the gallery today? Does its display help us tell and understand the history of slavery? Or does it continue to honour someone who benefitted from the slave trade? In light of recent international events, we want to know what our visitors think. We are displaying the portrait to be transparent with visitors and begin this conversation.

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