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This striking oil portrait of a semi-nude black woman wearing a turban is most likely French from the nineteenth century. We do not know who painted it, although it has been attributed to Delacroix, Fromentin and to Marie-Guillemine Benoist, a student of David. The painting does share some similarities with Benoist’s Portrait of a Black Woman (Louvre, Paris), which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1800. Early to mid-nineteenth-century portraits of black people are relatively rare in European art, but they were painted by Romantic artists such as Géricault and Delacroix and painters depicting Orientalist themes. Throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries there was growing opposition to slavery from the abolitionist movement.
A Black Woman
Oil on canvas
H 81.3 x W 66.7 cm
Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917