National Gallery and Legacies of British Slave-ownership research project
Published 8 November 2021
This research project brings together data that helps us to understand and acknowledge the role that slavery has had in the history of the National Gallery.
Some art collectors, connoisseurs, donors and founders of museums and galleries across Britain were slave-owners or benefitted financially from the trade in enslaved people.
Our project has started to find out about what links to slave-ownership can be traced within the Gallery, and to what extent the profits from plantation slavery impacted our early history.
Phases I and II of the research project
We are one of many UK museums and historic collections that are working to make the history and origin of their collections more accessible and transparent.
This ongoing research project has been facilitated by the archive created and shared by University College London’s (UCL) Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery (LBS) as part of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project. Its resources have clarified many links between slave-ownership, art collecting, patronage and philanthropy in Britain.
The research project started in 2018 when we approached Dr Nicholas Draper, a founder and then Director of LBS, and established an academic partnership to undertake systematic research into key figures in our history.
The first person researched was John Julius Angerstein (1735–1823). This is because, in 1824, the British government purchased 38 of Angerstein’s pictures as the foundation of the national collection. Working for what became Lloyd's of London, Angerstein amassed a fortune through broking and underwriting marine insurance. An unknown proportion of this was in slave ships and vessels bringing to Britain produce cultivated in the Caribbean by enslaved people. Angerstein acted as a trustee of estates and enslaved people in Grenada and Antigua.
To date, the research project has focused on 19th-century trustees and donors, as well as some important sitters and painters. The first two phases of research have been completed, covering the period from 1824 to 1880.
About the data
We have gathered succinct data, covering whether:
- the individual under review had links with slavery;
- they benefited from the slave trade and in what way; or
- the individual under review had connections with the abolitionist movement.
The data has been generated primarily through consulting three well-respected online resources noting whether any of them contain an entry for the person under review.
The online resources are
- The UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership project
- The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Paywall applies]
- The History of Parliament
We have linked that data to National Gallery pictures associated with that person, including any works transferred elsewhere, including Tate. This data is now searchable through our website.
We have taken an all-encompassing approach when identifying connections with slavery that may arise out of:
- a familial relationship, direct or collateral (including through marriage);
- a professional encounter (Sir Thomas Lawrence, for example, painted both slave-owners and abolitionists); or
- third-party ownership of a painting formerly belonging to, commissioned by or depicting a slave-owner.
Therefore, inclusion on this list should not be understood to imply a direct connection with slavery.
For convenience of use, the individuals researched have been grouped according to the type of known connection with:
- both, or
The presentation of the data aims as far as is possible to present objectively, facts relevant to the long and complex history of the transatlantic slave trade. From the information provided, users will be able to determine for themselves the nature and extent of these connections.
All data has been reviewed by Dr Draper, and we received advice on appropriate terminology from Marenka Thompson-Odlum, Research Associate at the Pitt Rivers Museum and doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, whose thesis explores Scotland and the transatlantic slave trade through material culture.
Dr Draper is now retired from LBS but continues to work with us on this project and has completed a detailed report on Angerstein, the slave trade and marine insurance, which is available on the UCL website for the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery. A second report, which focuses on Angerstein and slave-ownership, has been written by Rachel Lang of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery, UCL. This is also available on the UCL website.
We are now embarking on phase III of this research project, which will cover our trustees and donors from 1880 to 1920; thereafter, we will begin phase IV, which aims to cover past picture owners as far back as 1640.
A new Collaborative Doctoral PhD
To continue looking into these questions, we have committed to a Collaborative Doctoral PhD with Birkbeck College, University of London on ‘The National Gallery in the “Centre of Empire”, 1824–1924’, which explores the impact of empire on the early history of the National Gallery. The studentship started in October 2021 and is supervised by Dr Susanna Avery-Quash of the National Gallery and Dr Sarah Thomas of Birkbeck.
Phases I and II of the National Gallery and Legacies of British Slave-Ownership research project
Related to slavery
- Anderdon, James Hughes
- Angerstein, John Julius
- Bagot, Charles, Sir
- Baillie, Alexander
- Baring, Alexander, 1st Baron Ashburton
- Baring, Bingham, 2nd Baron Ashburton
- Beechey, William
- Bickersteth, Jane Elizabeth, Lady Langdale
- Boxall, William, Sir
- Brodrick, George 5th Viscount Midleton
- Brownlow Cust, Adelbert Wellington, 3rd Earl Brownlow
- Byng, George
- Carr, William Holwell The Reverend
- Charles I King of Great Britain
- Cholmondeley, George James
- Clarke, Simon Haughton, Sir, 9th Baronet
- Clive, Robert, 1st Baron Clive of Plassey
- Dawkins, Henry
- Douglas-Hamilton, Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton
- Egerton, Thomas, Revd
- Fane, Georgiana, Lady
- Faraday, Michael
- Fitzhugh, Charlotte
- Forster, M.
- Fox, Charles, Mrs
- Gainsborough, Thomas
- George IV, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
- Gower, George Granville Leveson, 1st Duke of Sutherland
- Graham, William
- Gray, Edward
- Gregory, Sir William Henry
- Harman, Jeremiah
- Higginson, Edmund Barneby
- Hinds, Philip L.
- Hodges, S. F. Mrs
- Howorth, Henry Hoyle Sir
- Jenkinson, Robert Banks, 2nd Earl of Liverpool
- Jones, George
- Kenyon, John
- Legendre, Françoise, Madame de Souscarrière
- Lister, Thomas, 4th Baron Ribblesdale
- Long, Baron Farnborough, Charles
- Long, William, Revd
- Loyd, Samuel Jones, 1st Baron Overstone
- Moffatt, George
- Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban
- Oswald, Mary
- Ottley, William Young
- Paule de Rigaud, Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de, comte de Vaudreuil
- Peel, Robert Sir, 2nd Bt
- Penrice, John
- Petty-Fitzmaurice, Henry Charles Keith, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne
- Robertson, Francis
- Rothschild, Alfred de
- Rushout, John 2nd Baron Northwick
- Salting, George
- Sterling, Anthony Conyngham, Sir
- Tarleton, Banastre, Lt-Col
- Tate, Henry, Sir
- Taylor, George Watson
- Thornton, William Lt-General Sir
- Trevelyan, Walter Calverley Sir
- Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India
- William IV
- Windsor-Clive, Robert George, 1st Earl of Plymouth
- Yznaga, Emilie
- Zachary, Michael Mucklow
Related to abolition
- Agar-Ellis, George James Welbore, 1st Baron Dover
- Beaumont, George Howland Sir, 7th Bt
- Bell, Jacob
- Chorley, Henry Fothergill
- Compton, Spencer Joshua Alwyne, 2nd Marquess of Northampton
- Ellis, Wynn
- Forbes, James
- Graham, James Sir
- Grey, Charles, 2nd Earl Grey
- Hamilton-Gordon, George, 4th Earl of Aberdeen
- Knight, Henry Gally
- Layard, Austen Henry Sir
- Lofft, C.
- Parsons, John Meeson
- Percy, Hugh, 3rd Duke of Northumberland
- Petty-Fitzmaurice, Henry, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
- Ridley-Colborne, Nicholas William, Baron Colborne of West Harling
- Robinson, Frederick John, 1st Viscount Goderich
- Rogers, Samuel
- Sharp, Granville
- Spring Rice, Thomas
- Turner, Joseph Mallord William
- Vane, Charles William Stewart 3rd Marquess of Londonderry
- Vernon, George John Warren, 5th Baron Vernon
- Vernon, Robert
- Wellesley, Henry, 1st Baron
- Westall, William
Related to slavery and abolition
- Barclay, David
- Baring, Thomas George 1st Earl and 2nd Baron of Northbrook
- Coningham, William
- Egerton, Francis, 1st Earl of Ellesmere
- Howard, Henry Charles, 18th Earl of Suffolk and 11th Earl of Berkshire
- Lawrence, Thomas Sir
- Legge, William, 4th Earl of Dartmouth
- Maitland, William Fuller
- Reynolds, Sir Joshua
- Shee, Martin Archer Sir
- Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, George Granville, 2nd Duke of Sutherland
- Talbot, John, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury
- Velázquez, Diego
- Walpole, Horatio, 3rd Earl of Orford
- Ward, William Humble, 1st Earl of Dudley
- Wells, William
- Wordsworth, William
Not related to slavery or abolition
- Ainsley, Samuel James
- Barker, Alexander
- Bewick, Elizabeth
- Bredel, Charles A.
- Bredel, Harriet
- Bromley, Walter Davenport Reverend
- Brown, J. H.
- Bulkeley-Owen, Thomas Bulkeley
- Carlisle, George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle
- Carmichael, Thomas David Gibson-Carmichael, Baron Carmichael
- Churchill, H.
- Clarke, Jane
- Compton, Charles, 3rd Marquess of Northampton
- Day, Alexander
- Eastlake, Charles Lock, Sir
- Farrer, Henry
- Freeman-Mitford, Algernon Bertram, 1st Baron Redesdale
- Fuller, Mary Ann
- Gardiner, Charles John, 1st Earl of Blessington
- Garnons, C. J., Miss
- Garnons, Richard
- Gloucester, Princess Sophia Matilda of
- Goff, R.
- Good, Mary Evans
- Graves, Henry
- Green, Joseph Henry Mrs
- Halford, Revd Thomas
- Hamlet, Thomas
- Hardinge, Charles Stewart, 2nd Viscount Hardinge of Lahore
- Hay, James, Maj.-Gen.
- Henderson, John
- Heseltine, John Postle
- Hill, Edward C.
- Howard, Thomas
- Ingram-Shepheard, Frances, Viscountess Irwin
- James, Walter Charles, 1st Baron Northbourne
- Jewer, Jewer Henry Mrs
- Keogh, F. A.
- Kerrick, Richard Edward, Revd
- Lewis, Thomas Denison
- Linton, William
- Lofft, R.E.
- Mansfield, Isabella Frances
- May, John Major-General Sir
- Murray, Charles Fairfax
- Nieuwenhuys, Chrétien-Jean
- Ollney, John Harvey Lieutenant-Colonel
- P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd.
- Phillips, Thomas
- Poole, Paul Falconer
- Pusey, Philip
- Richter, Jean Paul
- Rigby, Elizabeth, Lady Eastlake
- Robinson, John Charles Sir
- Rochard, Simon Jacques
- Russell, John Fuller Reverend
- Russell, William
- Saul, George Thomas
- Savile, John, 1st Baron Savile of Rufford
- Scott, John Murray Sir
- Shipperdson, Edward
- Silk, George
- Simmons, Richard
- Simpkinson Lady
- Singleton, Henry
- Smith, William
- Solly, Sarah
- Spence, William Campbell
- Taddy, Sergeant
- Teed, Ellen Julia Mrs Robert Hollond
- Tennant, Charles Sir, 1st Bt
- Vallati, Pietro
- Vivian, Ralph, Capt.
- Wallace, Richard Sir
- Westminster, Lady Elizabeth Mary Grosvenor, Marchioness of
- White, William Benoni
- Wilkins, William
- Wolfe, Thomas Birch
- Woodburn, Samuel
We would like to hear from anyone who has further information to share both in relation to adjusting or augmenting the data presented here. Please contact us including information about the source from which the new data has been derived.