A Virginian Merchant’s Waistcoat

This cream silk satin waistcoat was said by the donor to have been embroidered by ‘Mrs Glassels’, the maternal grandmother of George John Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll (1823–1900). While the majority of surviving Georgian waistcoats were embroidered professionally, there is evidence that some were stitched by amateurs to give as presents to their husbands or fathers. If Mrs Glassels did make this one, … Continue reading A Virginian Merchant’s Waistcoat

The Rani of Jhansi, a symbol of resistance to British Rule in India

This dhokra brass alloy sculpture of the ‘Rani of Jhansi’ was made in 2013 by father and son artists Ramu and Shubho Karmakar from West Bengal. It depicts the armoured warrior queen Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, astride her warhorse, carrying an upraised sword in her right hand, a shield on her left and with her adopted infant son Damodar Rao on her back. Lakshmibai … Continue reading The Rani of Jhansi, a symbol of resistance to British Rule in India

Mary McDowall – A Childhood and Dowry Funded by Enslaved Labour

Mary McDowall, sometimes known as Maria, lived a privileged life. She was born on 13 January 1751, the third child and eldest daughter of William McDowall and his wife Elizabeth Graham at Castle Semple, Renfrewshire. The Castle Semple estate had been purchased by her grandfather, Colonel William McDowall (1678–1738), in 1727 with the original buildings demolished and a new Palladian-style country house built in 1735. … Continue reading Mary McDowall – A Childhood and Dowry Funded by Enslaved Labour

Cecilia Douglas – Art Collector and Owner of Enslaved People

In 1862 Mrs Cecilia Douglas (nee Douglas) bequeathed oil paintings and sculptures to the then Glasgow Corporation. The paintings initially were on display in the Corporation Art Galleries in Sauchiehall Street before being moved to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Most are now in store at Glasgow Museum Resource Centre.  She and her husband Gilbert married in 1794 and came from two different branches of the Douglas family. Hers apparently was descended … Continue reading Cecilia Douglas – Art Collector and Owner of Enslaved People

Ann Stirling’s Dress

This charming dress represents not only a product of enslaved labour, but also the wealth of those involved in the slavery economy and their extended families. The gown is made from muslin, a finely woven cotton cloth, and has been delicately embroidered in white cotton thread with wheat ears motifs worked in satin stitch. The silhouette, with its wide collar, gigot sleeves and frill skirt … Continue reading Ann Stirling’s Dress

A Looted Royal Stool

This stool was taken from the Asante Royal Palace of Kumasi by Brigadier General Sir Archibald Alison, on 4 February 1874, when he led part of the British Army’s invading force against the Asante people.  To the Asante, stools were sacred and symbolic, thought to contain the soul of its owner, and passed down through the generations. Asante stools are usually carved from asese wood … Continue reading A Looted Royal Stool

Selling West Indian Sugar and Rum in Glasgow

The artist and the sitter’s identities for this unique portrait of a woman working in a grocery shop c. 1790 to 1825 in Glasgow Museum’s collections are as yet unknown and remain to be discovered. However, not all is lost because this portrait has attracted more attention in recent years, such as Professor Eleanor Gordon’s assessment of it in 2014 when she interpreted it in … Continue reading Selling West Indian Sugar and Rum in Glasgow

Lady Margaret Mackenzie speaks – life with the Glassfords

By 1783 John Glassford (1715 -1783) had been married three times. The last marriage was in 1768 to Lady Margaret Mackenzie.  It is Lady Mackenzie who is seated in the Glassford family portrait. What did she have to say about life with the Glassfords? Lady Margaret Mackenzie wrote to the daughter of her aunt, Lady Henrietta Dundas of Arniston. She noted ‘I do not find … Continue reading Lady Margaret Mackenzie speaks – life with the Glassfords

Lady Jean Grant and Caribbean Slavery

In 1940 this portrait of Jean Duff, Lady Grant (1746-1805), painted by David Allan (1744-1796) in 1780 entered Glasgow Museums collections without any news coverage. The painting has been displayed in Kelvingrove since 2006 as an example of Scottish art and civility. The obituary written for her in 1805 praised her goodness and piety. She appears to have been as she appears in the painting … Continue reading Lady Jean Grant and Caribbean Slavery