Iconic painting coming to Slavery Museum

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Outside the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which hosts Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum. Pic © Danielle Thomas JMU Journalism

A painting illustrating the ‘powerful iconography of abolition’ is set to go on display in the city after the International Slavery Museum was awarded a significant grant to fund its arrival.

The £50,000 bestowed to Liverpool’s waterfront museum follows a joint effort by Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures Programme.

Dating back to 1800, the ‘Am Not I A Man and A Brother’ painting is set to appear by the end of the year.

It depicts an enslaved African, kneeling and bound in chains on a Caribbean sugar plantation. Its inspiration arises from an original designed commissioned by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787.

The famous 18th Century potter, Josiah Wedgwood, brought it to wider attention when he featured it on a medallion design.

‘Am Not I a Man And a Brother’. Pic © International Slavery Museum

Katie Owen, Senior Manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures Programme, told JMU Journalism: “The funding for this painting was awarded to the International Slavery Museum back in 2014 – and what a wonderful painting it is.

“The whole point of collecting cultures is to give museums the opportunity to apply for this money in advance and move swiftly when they do something they want to purchase. That is what we helped the Slavery Museum do.”

Officials say the only other known version of ‘The Kneeling Slave’ can be found at the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull.

Stephen Carl-Lokko, Curator for the International Slavery Museum, said: “We are very pleased to add this to our collection.

“The painting is a remarkable surviving product of the early phase of the British movement to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade during the 18th and 19th Century.”

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About Danielle Thomas, JMU Journalism