Yale’s painting of the same name and a slave child are on display again

An early 18th-century painting of the same name at Yale University with a black child in slavery, art experts have investigated its origins, and campus discussions continue on its relationship to school slavery. Nevertheless, it was published in one of its museums.

An oil painting on an almost life-sized canvas shows Elihu Yale and his family sitting at a table with a cigarette pipe and a wine glass. In the background, children who are thought to be grandchildren of Yale University are playing.

The Yale Center for British Art removed the painting from the exhibition in October 2020 and conducted a technical analysis. This analysis includes boy identification and other boy identification efforts. Over the years, some patrons have expressed concern about the portrayal of enslaved children, but that was not the reason to get rid of it, said Center Director Courtney Martin. rice field.


“There are always concerns about looking at works with unstable themes,” Martin said. “But I think you alleviate those concerns by saying that we understand that this is a painting with a context that we need to explore further.”

So far, research and analysis by center experts have not been able to identify the boys they believe are about 10 years old. However, they determined that some adults were misidentified by their previous owners and that the portraits were painted between 1719 and 1721, the year of death at Yale University, rather than the originally thought 1708. Did.

Experts at the center believe it is Dutch artist John Bererst, but it is unclear who painted the portrait. Researchers also believe that the painting was painted at Yale’s house in London. This month it was returned to the public exhibition at the museum.

For several months, this painting is a 2016 work of art by Titus Kaffer, including a portrait of a slave boy without a metal collar on top of what looks like a crumpled version of the original painting. Was replaced by.


There is no evidence that Elihu Yale owned slaves. His dissertation containing financial records was not found. And it’s unclear if the enslaved child was owned by one of the other men in the painting, with researchers including Yale’s son-in-law, Sir James Cavendish and Dudley North. believe.

But experts believe that Yale was the governor of Fort St. George, India, and oversaw the slave trade and other commerce while working for the East India Company. There are also other paintings of Yale and slaves, such as those removed in 2007 after years of complaints from the Yale University Boardroom. And his relatives in New Haven, home of Yale University, were slave owners, researchers say.

According to the university, it was named after Yale in 1718 after he donated more than 400 books, profits from the sale of goods, and a portrait of George I.

This painting is part of a larger campus debate about the relationship with college slavery, including relationships with people who supported slavery and were racists against blacks. Was there. In 2017, the school paid tribute to the pioneering mathematicians and naval generals who earned a Yale degree from Yale University, John, a 19th-century Yale University graduate, US Vice President and supporter of slavery. Named after C. Calhoon, Yale University has been renamed to Grace Hopper University. 1930s.


“Slavery is an important part of the history of the institution,” said Edward Rougemer, an associate professor of African-American studies and history at Yale University. “And that’s part of the history that the Yale community needs to ponder, agree on what to do about the racial injustices that persist in our society, and move forward.”

Rugemer said self-portraits, including slaves, were popular during Elihu Yale’s life. Even George Washington was painting himself with slaves.

And although there is no evidence that Yale owned the slave, “He included the child of the slave in the portrait, making him an imperial man and a wealth as a master. From Yale’s point of view, the child is him. Complements your height. “

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Yale’s painting of the same name and a slave child are on display again

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