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Anglo-Americans, Abolitionists and Women

3 - 10 July 2020

Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm, or by appointment

Anglo Americans, Abolitionists and Women

During London Art Week Digital 2020, Ben Elwes Fine Art will present a selection of paintings across six centuries that reflect the Anglo-American nature of the Gallery. 

Ben Elwes, who is British, has been a dealer for three decades and Rachel Layton Elwes comes from an American Museum background. Building on their reputation for handling works by Anglo-American artists, they will focus the spotlight on women artists often missing from the art-historical canon, as well as on art of the anti-slavery movement, together with a selection of Old and Modern Masters. 

Five women artists dating from the early 19th century to the 1950s will feature in this virtual exhibition. To include: British artist Margaret Sarah Carpenter's (1793-1872) portrait of General Sir Charles Hastings Doyle K.C.M.G (1805-1883), when serving in the 4th Queen's Own Light Dragoons, c. 1825. painting with the bravura and flourish associated with the Regency period, Carpenter exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the British Institution and, in 1823, a reviewer wrote, "It very rarely happens that a specimen of art like this is produced from the hand of a lady: Here are colour, light, strength and effect". 

Additionally, following their success selling paintings which narrate the story of the African diaspora and the Abolitionist Movement, Ben Elwes Fine Art continues to engage in the repositioning of slavery as represented in art. 

The Captured Runaway of 1856 by William Gale (1823-1909) is one of a small group of pictures exhibited at the Royal Academy in London before the American Civil War which featured African-born or African-descended subjects. It depicts a mixed-race African-descended enslaved woman handcuffed to a bounty hunter, pausing on their journey south, to her owner. 

The Victorians were at once horrified and politically engaged by real and fictionalised stories of figurative enslaved people bravely attempting freedom, and Gale's work appeals t this interest. Paintings like this, although challenging, help people to understand the anti-slavery movement by making an abstract concept transformative and personal. 

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