Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Black Boy with Paston Treasure

Conservation work on the picture of the Paston family's tableful of expensive and exotic possessions in Norwich Castle Museum brings up the nicely painted image of a young African man from the 1670s or thereabouts (with a much less nice baboon sitting on his shoulder.)  The lad is most finely dressed in his green and pink satins, and appears just as much an exotic possession as the tropical seashells, silver and other objets that crowd the table - though it must be noted there is another figure among the stuff - a younger white girl holding roses and sheet music in allusion to the cultured status of Sir Robert Paston and his family.  Rather than an artistic accessory she is thought to represent Robert's daughter, so the young man may possibly also be a household member, though it seems unlikely, unless the archives can yield information on the Pastons' servants.  He was surely drawn from life, however, so behind the image there lies a real person, whose history and experience can only be guessed at.

More on the painting here

on a link to crowd-funding the re-gilding of the frame
hopefully here

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