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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.
Portrait of a Man in a Red Suit
oil on canvas
H 61.8 x W 51.5 cm
gift from Percy Moore Turner, 1943
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