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Supposed Portrait of Florence Smyth (b.1634), and an Unnamed Black Attendant

Photo credit: Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

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Notes

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This portrait once hung at Ashton Court Mansion, a house on the outskirts of Bristol belonging to the Smyth family. The Smyths were merchants and were a prominent local family from the sixteenth century. This little girl is dressed in clothes fashionable around 1640, and she is accompanied by a young black figure who is also dressed in rich fabrics. He holds a nest of robins, which may signify the nurture of children or the transience of youth.

If the girl is Florence Smyth (born 1634, the second daughter of Thomas and Florence Smyth, nee Poulett) although this cannot yet be proved, this is a very early and important image of a black presence in Bristol. Further research is currently being undertaken to establish the identities of the sitters.

The Red Lodge Museum

Title

Supposed Portrait of Florence Smyth (b.1634), and an Unnamed Black Attendant

Date

c.1640

Medium

oil on canvas

Measurements

H 66 x W 58.5 cm

Accession number

K6225

Acquisition method

purchased with the assistance of the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery, the Peter John Blyth Art Fund and the Friends of Bristol's Museums, Galleries and Archives, 2008

Work type

Painting

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The Red Lodge Museum

Park Row, Bristol BS1 5LJ England

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