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A Daughter of Eve or The American Slave or The Slave Girl

John Bell (Hopton, Suffolk 1811 – Kensington 1895)

Category

Art / Sculpture

Date

1853 (exh at RA)

Materials

Bronze and silver

Measurements

1525 x 400 x 360 mm (60 1/16 x 15 3/4 x 14 3/16 in)

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Cragside, Northumberland (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Cragside, Northumberland, North, National Trust

NT 1228372

Summary

Bronze sculpture with silver chain, A Daughter of Eve or The American Slave or The Slave Girl by John Bell (Hopton, Suffolk 1811 – Kensington 1895), inscribed on the base, to the right: JOHN. BELL SC. A figure of a semi-naked and manacled female African slave on a circular base. 'A Daughter of Eve - A Scene on the Shore of the Atlantic - to be executed in bronze' (plaster version) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1853. This full-size bronze version appears to have been originally owned (and commissioned) by the Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-1870), whose collections of art form the core of the Wallace Collection in London. Lord Armstrong probably bought A Daughter of Eve, which by then bore the title of The American Slave (after the display of the Parian ware version by Minton & Co. at the International Exhibition of 1862), after Lord Hertford's death. Bell had previously produced another chained figure, Andromeda (1850), which he exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition in the Industrial section as a good example of bronze casting and a version was bought by Queen Victoria and is now in the gardens of Osborne House, Isle of Wight. Its inspiration came partly from America, from the phenomenal success of the Greek Slave by Hiram Powers (who had earlier achieved fame with a statue of Eve) when shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (at Raby Castle, Co. Durham, 1844, and The Newark Museum, 1847), and from the wave of revulsion against slavery aroused by the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. Bell achieved popularity with a series of figures, often including animals, in various states of distress, and with his Una and the Lion, which was reproduced in Parian ware, but his best-known work today is the Guards’ Crimean War Memorial of 1860, in Waterloo Place, London.

Provenance

Commissioned/ owned by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford (1800-1870) whose collection forms the core of the Wallace Collection, London; probably bought by Lord Armstrong (1810 - 1900) after 1870; transferred by the Treasury to The National Trust in 1977 via the National Land Fund, aided by 3rd Baron Armstrong of Bamburgh and Cragside (1919 - 1987).

Credit line

Cragside, The Armstrong Collection (acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1977)

Makers and roles

John Bell (Hopton, Suffolk 1811 – Kensington 1895), sculptor

Exhibition history

Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901, Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut, 2014 - 2015, no.84 Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901, Tate Britain, London, 2014 - 2015, no.84

References

Sculpture Victorious Art in an Age of Invention, 1837 – 1901, exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, September 11, 2014 – November 30, 2014 and Tate Britain, 25 February – 25 May 2015, fig. 3, p. 17 , cat. no. 84 Bell 1876 Doyne Bell, Catalogue of the Paintings, Sculpture and other Works of Art at Osborne, 1876 Barnes 1999 R. Barnes, John Bell. The Sculptor's Life and Works, Kirstead, 1999, no. 49 & p. 44 Bilbey and Trusted 2002 Diane Bilbey and Marjoire Trusted, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002, 278, p. 196

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