A review of the adult skills and education sector for the City of London.
Created in partnership with Culture Mile Learning, these teacher prompts including images, more information and prompts for learning feature two artworks in the Guildhall Art Gallery’s collection that reflect the problematic representation of Black people in British Victorian art.
The first artwork is Girl with Fruit, painted by John Gilbert in 1882. Little is known about the sitter for the portrait. We do not know how accurate the representation is, i.e. how well the person or their culture is depicted. We do not know if the person was painted in their country wearing their clothes and carrying their own belongings, or whether it was staged in England with a Black sitter and the artist’s own props.
The second artwork is called Head of a Zulu, painted by amateur painter Constance Wood in 1881. The sitter is unidentified, but he was probably a model for various painters at a time when Black people were becoming increasingly represented in British art . It is possible that he was at Queen Victoria’s court as a result of the visit of the Zulu leader King Cetshwayo in 1882.
The third artwork is Uzo Egnou’s Tower Bridge, painted in 1969, which draws on European modern art and the traditions of West African art to reinterpret London. Uzo Egonu came to Britain from Nigeria in 1945 and lived and worked in London from 1948 until his death in 1996. This long association with the capital became a major presence in his works.
Prompts for learning include written and artistic responses to the artworks.