Anne of Denmark, Queen Consort of James I, by Paul van Somer, 1617 --- Louise de Quéroualle, by P.Mignard, 1682, mistress of Charles II

The African Mariner

This page is prompted by the unmistakable presence of a black seaman in the painting presented by Monamy to Painter's Hall in 1726. I wonder if there is an earlier depiction anywhere in English painting of a black man taking an active, working part with other Englishmen.

There is no way of telling whether this particular sailor is free and not enslaved, and I have been told that at this date he was bound to be a slave. He looks free, nevertheless, and, in this respect, to my mind, contrasts favourably with the servile roles assigned to the purely decorative black presence in the opulent portraits of the Stuart queen and mistress: emblems of hierarchy.

      Painter-Stainer's Hall 1726

from Hogarth's Blacks
by David Dabydeen

Two books which have seemed apt in this context are Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail, 1997, by W.Jeffrey Bolster; and Hogarth's Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth Century Art, 1987, by David Dabydeen. Dabydeen's book is a close analysis of the contrast between the portrayal of Africans in Hogarth's paintings, and in earlier images of property and status.

Lord George Graham in his Cabin, by W.Hogarth, 1742, NMM

Art, Propaganda, Slavery & Romance

see here for slavery


Enlightening Reading

Bolster, W.Jeffrey       Black Jacks
Curtin, Philip D.       The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census
Dabydeen, David       Hogarth's Blacks
Tattersfield, Nigel       The Forgotten Trade
Thomas, Hugh       The Slave Trade


article 1981       article 1983
forty-five picture tiles
monamy website index

© Charles Harrison Wallace 2003
all rights reserved