The Tontine Heads

New interpretation at Provand’s Lordship highlights the links between the ‘Tontine heads’ and slavery. These stone heads were given this name after Glasgow’s Tontine Society took over the Tontine building on Trongate in 1781 to use it as an exchange for sugar dealers. The heads, however, belong to the building when it was Glasgow’s Town Hall. The Town Hall itself was built between the 1730s … Continue reading The Tontine Heads

The Cunninghame Mansion

The building housing Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) started out as a mansion for the tobacco and sugar merchant William Cunninghame of Lainshaw (1731 – 1799). The plot of land on Queen Street where the Gallery stands was once agricultural ground on Glasgow’s western frontier. Construction of the small but impressive mansion house started in 1777. The house had a sunk storey for kitchens, … Continue reading The Cunninghame Mansion

John Glassford’s Family Portrait

When the portrait of the tobacco merchant John Glassford and his family was given to Glasgow Museums in 1950 not much was known about it, and a myth grew about a black slave boy who had been painted over to erase Glasgow’s association with the slave trade. In 2007 the painting was moved from the People’s Palace to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where conservation … Continue reading John Glassford’s Family Portrait

How Glasgow Flourished, 1714 – 1837

In the summer of 2014, when Glasgow played host to the Commonwealth Games, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum held a special exhibition called How Glasgow Flourished, 1714 – 1837. This endorsed Glasgow Museum’s commitment to displaying objects and stories about the city’s historic links with transatlantic chattel slavery in America and the West Indies. The central core of the exhibition was about the way Glasgow’s … Continue reading How Glasgow Flourished, 1714 – 1837

How Glasgow Flourished Symposium

Glasgow Museums has a commitment to displaying and discussing its collections’ links to slavery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hosted a symposium in 2014 on ‘How Glasgow Flourished, 1714  -1837’. This complemented the exhibition of the same name and brought together academics and curators to explore various themes relating to the growth of Glasgow in this period. The talks were all recorded with the aim … Continue reading How Glasgow Flourished Symposium

The Luke of Claythorn family – silver, sugar and slavery

The Scottish Identity in Art gallery in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum contains many wonderful objects, including silverware made by the Luke of Claythorn family. Claythorn is in today’s Calton, near the People’s Palace. Recent research on portraits of them in the museum stores has revealed a complicated family history. There are six portraits: three of John Luke, one of James Luke and one for … Continue reading The Luke of Claythorn family – silver, sugar and slavery

Enslaved Black Boys

The portrait of John Glassford and family in the People’s Palace Museum in Glasgow is the most famous portrait of one the city’s most successful tobacco merchants. It also attracts attention because of the rare image of the Glassford’s enslaved black boy. Glasgow Museums has never attempted to cover him up, but without knowing more about him what should he be called? What should similar … Continue reading Enslaved Black Boys