A Rediscovered Masterpiece - Last seen in 1828

It is a rare treat to see such a beautifully painted head.

The Art Institute of Chicago has a landmark British painting: "The Captive Slave" (1827) by British portraitist John Philip Simpson. It has not been seen in public for 180 years.

Here is a detail.

This is the entire painting and it clearly displays Simpson's tremendous technical skills.

John Philip Simpson was known primarily as a portrait painter and was once a studio assistant to Sir Thomas Lawrence. In 1827, Simpson took a great professional risk to create a work that expressed his deeply held anti-slavery beliefs.

X-ray photography revealed that Simpson composed "The Captive Slave" on a used canvas, which had been previously painted.

The fact that he painted it on a discarded canvas suggests that he made it on impulse, and of his own volition, rather than as a commissioned work.

Douglas Druick of The Art Institute of Chicago described Simpson's engagement with a politically incendiary topic and suggests that the painting was intended as a condemnation of contemporary slavery, and a personal declaration of support for the Abolition Movement.


Art student's blog spot said...

Read " Uncle Tom's cabin" by Harriet Beechim, then look at this. Such incredible technical skill. The expression is peircing. Thank you for sharing this

Terry Strickland said...

You're right- this is gorgeous, the color temperature shifts in the flesh tones are wonderful. Thank for sharing!

Alia El-Bermani said...

Karin, thank you for sharing this. It is such an incredible painting!

sexyzoo said...

awesome pics...