Ayuba Suleiman Diallo display

We are very grateful for the interest in the remarkable portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. If you kindly contributed to our acquisition campaign in July and August 2010, you should already have been contacted by a member of Gallery staff.

We recently announced a cooperative agreement with the portrait's owners to loan the painting for a period of five years, and we are pleased to say that it is now on display in room 15. For further details of these developments, please see the news release below.

With renewed thanks to our supporters for all their help.


News Release

Wednesday 19 January 2011

FIRST BRITISH PORTRAIT OF A BLACK AFRICAN MUSLIM AND FREED SLAVE GOES ON DISPLAY

National Portrait Gallery displays portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo as part of cooperative agreement with the Qatar Museums Authority

The Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and the National Portrait Gallery, London announce a cooperative agreement relating to the portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, painted by William Hoare of Bath in 1733. Following the purchase of the work by QMA at Christie’s in November 2009, the painting was the subject of export restriction, having been judged by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art to be of outstanding importance to the history and culture of Britain. It was on this basis that the National Portrait Gallery expressed its strong interest in the painting.

QMA has now decided to lend the work to the National Portrait Gallery for a five year period. It goes on display at the Gallery from tomorrow Thursday 20 January 2011. QMA will support a programme organised by the Gallery to include the conservation of the painting, research and interpretation, a UK tour to include Leicester, Liverpool and the North-East, and an exhibition to visit Doha in 2013. As part of the programme, an intern from Qatar will spend time working at the National Portrait Gallery.

Roger Mandle, Executive Director of the Qatar Museums Authority, says:  ‘I am delighted that we now are able to share such an important painting with audiences in Britain. Working with the National Portrait Gallery will allow the cultural, historical and religious significance of this portrait to be fully researched. This material can then be shared on an international basis.’

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘This is a good example of international cooperation between museums, which will extend the opportunities for people to understand the importance of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. It is a portrait that sheds new light on cultural and intellectual exchanges in the first half of the eighteenth century. We are extremely grateful to all those people who were so enthusiastic about the appeal, and we will be following-up to return funds. I am very pleased that everyone will be able to see this fascinating painting on the walls of the Gallery and on tour.’

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (also known as Job ben Solomon) by William Hoare of Bath will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Room 15 from 20 January 2011.

For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Senior Press Officer, National Portrait Gallery. Tel: 020 7312 2452 (not for publication) Email: nevans@npg.org.uk

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo also known as Job ben Solomon (1701-73)
by William Hoare (c.1707-72), 1733
Oil on canvas, 762 x 642 mm

Image Caption:

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo also known as Job ben Solomon (1701-73)
by William Hoare (c.1707-72), 1733
© Christie’s Images Limited

The portrait: Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, called Job ben Solomon (1701-73), 1733 by William Hoare of Bath c.1707-72. The earliest known British oil portrait of a freed slave and the first portrait that honours a named African subject and Muslim as an individual and an equal.

The artist: At the start of his career, William Hoare (c.1707-72) worked in the studio of the painter and sculptor Giuseppe Grisoni with whom he travelled to Rome in 1728. Hoare was back in England by 1733, and after he returned from the continent, settled in Bath and was one of the first artists to set up as a portraitist in the fashionable spa resort. He quickly established a reputation as an accomplished artist in oil and pastel, painting many members of Georgian high society. In 1769, on the King’s special request, Hoare became one of the founder members of the Royal Academy. He exhibited there until 1779. His finest work is characterised by its remarkable directness and empathy and its ability to respond to the sitter’s personality and interests.

The subject: Ayuba Suleiman Diallo is an important figure in the history of Britain and its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. An educated man from a family of Muslim imams in West Africa, Diallo was taken into slavery and sent to work on a plantation in America. By his own intelligence and piety, and assisted by a stroke of fortune, Diallo arrived in London in 1733 where he mixed with high and intellectual society, was introduced at Court and was bought out of slavery by public subscription. Through the publication by Thomas Bluett of his Memoirs in 1734, Diallo had an important and lasting impact on an understanding of West African culture, black identity and the Islamic faith. This portrait depicts Diallo as a man of intelligence, character and compassion – providing rare insight into the emergence of more tolerant values in Britain during the Enlightenment.

Qatar Museums Authority:

Established in 2005, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) is a governmental organisation leading plans to develop museums and cultural institutions along with an effective system for collecting, protecting, preserving and interpreting art, historic sites and artefacts.  Under the leadership of its Chairperson, Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, QMA aims to transform Qatar to become a cultural hub in the region through public education programmes, cooperation with reputable international organisations and by promoting academic study. Over the past few years, QMA has launched the following museums:

  • The Museum of Islamic Art: Opened its doors to the public in December 2008 and is home to an elaborate collection of Islamic art covering three continents over a period of 1300 years.  (www.mia.org.qa)
  • Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art: Established in December 2010, Mathaf hosts exhibitions and events that explore and celebrate art by Arab artists representing every decade from the mid-19th century. (www.mathaf.org.qa)
  • National Museum of Qatar: Initially inaugurated in 1975 in a restored palace built in the early 20th century by the late Sheikh Abdulla bin Jassim Al Thani.  Currently the museum is closed and undergoing reconstruction to come back as an innovative museum of the 21st century by 2014.

For further information about Qatar Museums Authority visit: www.qma.org.qa

National Portrait Gallery: The Gallery was founded by Act of Parliament in 1856, and has been collecting portraits of ‘persons contributing to British history and culture’ ever since. It is the foremost such collection in the world, and has its principal displays in St Martin’s Place in the heart of London. It has some 10,000 portraits in its primary collection, and more than 300,000 images in its reference collections. During the last financial year (2009-10) nearly 2 million people visited the Gallery, and more than 5 million visited its website www.npg.org.uk.

In recent years the Gallery has put considerable emphasis on acquisitions, both historic and contemporary, and the Portrait Fund was established in 2006. The Gallery has a commissioning programme for contemporary portraits, and in recent years has pursued some important historic acquisitions with the help of public appeals. Following grants offered from the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, an appeal for the final part of the funding to make an offer for the portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was launched in June 2010 and completed in August 2010.

The Gallery has energetic displays, exhibitions, learning, digital and partnership programmes, and in recent years has investigated the understanding and exchanges between cultures through portraiture. In 2007 the Gallery presented the exhibition Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850 in which these issues were explored.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am - 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website: www.npg.org.uk