Portrait Of A Negress by Marie Guilhelmine Benoist


Portrait Of A Negress


Marie Guilhelmine Benoist

Ref GM264
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 18" x 24" (46 x 60 cm)
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This is a world-renowned work of art, a beautiful painting of genuine historical significance. Executed at a time when the enslavement of Africans was common throughout the world, this sensitive portrait had a galvanising effect on public opinion and on the abandonment of callous attitudes towards enforced servitude. The colonisation of the Americas by the European powers produced a massive demand for labour, and it was soon realised that this could be provided by assuming control of the African slave trade. By the eighteenth century the market in slaves was as lucrative as any in the world, with millions being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to work on plantations in colonies from Virginia to Brazil. The Haitian Revolution of 1791 brought this barbaric industry into the full glare of the public eye, and slavery was abolished in the French Empire in 1794. It was shortly after this that Benoist produced her Portrait of a Negress, and this depiction of a beautiful, dignified yet mournful woman would do much to consolidate public sympathy for those sold into captivity. The painting was first exhibited at the Salon of 1800, and in 1826 was transferred to the Louvre, where it may be seen to this day.