Selected text from Naming The Money Catalogue
The idea of a portrait as the likeness of a person, and to some extent a revelation of the inner character, is turned on its head when examining portraits of black servants. Whilst undoubtedly they often do record appearance, this is rarely their primary purpose. Particularly in those paintings where they appear with their master or mistress, the role of the servant is merely to enhance the appearance and character of the other person portrayed. The identity, personality, hopes and aspirations of the servant are at most secondary, more usually, entirely absent. This is no surprise he who pays the piper, calls the tune; but these portraits give us tantalisingly fleeting glimpses of the lives of these imported servants.
That black servants appear in so many portraits demonstrates the prominent role which they played in domestic life. But they remain unknown and in the shadows. Lubaina Himid‘s installation Naming The Money reveals the hidden history of black slaves and servants. It gives forgotten individuals a voice, the unknown supporting characters a name and a history.
Lucy Whetstone Curator Hatton Gallery
Naming The MoneyCatalogue Pierre Mignard Portrait of Louise de KirroualleWilliam Dobson John 1st Baron of Rochdale 1643
ISBN 0-7017-0166-8 Duchess of Plymouth 1682 Naming The Money catalogue.
Naming The Money catalogue.