Dr. Patrick Eyres is editor-publisher of the New Arcadian Journal, which engages with the cultural politics of landscape gardens. The 50th edition (2011) explores the significance of ‘The Blackamoor’ statue in 18th-century British gardens. The subject arose through the need to interpret the restored statue at Wentworth Castle. Patrick represents the Georgian Group on the Board of Trustees supervising the ongoing restoration of buildings, monuments, gardens and parkland within this Grade I historical landscape. He has published in numerous books and journals, and co-edited Sculpture and the Garden (Ashgate, 2006). He knew the poet-gardener Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) for almost thirty years and is thus a member of the Little Sparta Trust, which seeks to safeguard this unique garden. Patrick is also on the board of the Garden History Society and Leeds Art Fund, and a member of the Yorkshire Gardens Trust, Public Monuments and Sculpture Association and Folly Fellowship. More information
Utrecht, ‘The Asiento’ and ‘The Blackamoor’ garden statue
While British historians have acknowledged the Peace of Utrecht as the catalyst to Britain’s ascendancy as an imperial power, there is silence about the treaty’s pivotal role in British dominance of the Atlantic slave trade – through acquisition of the ‘Asiento de Negros’, the monopoly contract to transport African slaves to the Spanish New World Empire. This paper will discuss ‘The Blackamoor’ garden statue as a symbol of ‘The Asiento’ and later of the Atlantic slave trade as a whole.
Also known as ‘The Kneeling Slave’, ‘The Blackamoor’ is a lead figure of a male African supporting a sundial. The first of these statues was commissioned by King William III from the sculptor, John Nost I, for the Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace in 1701, the year ‘The Asiento’ was awarded to Louis XIV of France. After 1713 ‘The Blackamoor’ was among the garden statues installed at Wentworth Castle by Lord Strafford, one of Britain’s two negotiators at Utrecht, who embellished his country estate as a monument to the peace treaty.
‘The Blackamoor’ proved to be the most popular of all the lead garden statues cast in London – until the 1780s when the movement for abolition of the slave trade gathered momentum, and the image of the kneeling African was appropriated as the emblem first of abolition and then, in the 1830s, of emancipation.
Het Loo, Hampton Court, Melbourne Hall and Wentworth Castle are among the baroque gardens that will be discussed.