Another Little Patch of Red
John MacKenzie suggests that imperial rule and the possession of empire were an essential component of British identity, life and culture for over 200 years from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.
A remarkable portrait from the late eighteenth century depicts a wealthy Glasgow merchant, John Glassford, surrounded by his family and with a black servant standing behind. Or it should show the servant behind. In fact, at some point in the nineteenth century, the servant was painted out. We only know about this because modern X-ray techniques have rediscovered the image of the black attendant. No one is quite sure why: was it because of sensitivities during the anti-slavery campaign or did it arise from a desire to render the portrait ‘racially pure’?