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Portrait of a Man in a Red Suit

Photo credit: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

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The identity of the sitter is still unknown. In the 1960s, it was suggested that he was the author and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano (c.1745–1797), painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 2006, Charles Ignatius Sancho (c.1729–1780) was proposed as the sitter, with a reattribution to the Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay. The title shifted to 'Portrait of an African (probably Ignatius Sancho)' in 2019, although the painting was still widely reproduced as Equiano. By the end of 2019, Sancho too had been dismissed as the subject. In 2023, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum changed the title to its current form, drawing on the historical evidence for a thriving community of African-Britons in Georgian England, which makes it seem inappropriate to continue to label the sitter as African rather than British, or indeed some other nationality.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Exeter

Title

Portrait of a Man in a Red Suit

Date

c.1740–1780

Medium

oil on canvas

Measurements

H 61.8 x W 51.5 cm

Accession number

14/1943

Acquisition method

gift from Percy Moore Turner, 1943

Work type

Painting

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Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Queen Street, Exeter, Devon EX4 3RX England

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