Sir Walter Ralegh
Sir Walter Ralegh; Walter Ralegh
by Unknown artist
Towards the end of the sixteenth century it became fashionable for members of the aristocracy to have one or more enslaved Africans among their household servants. One of the early creators of this trend in the 1590s was Lady Ralegh, the wife of Sir Walter. Owning and displaying an African slave became very fashionable and remained a popular indicator of status well into the eighteenth century. Just one example is Mignard's portrait of the Duchess of Portsmouth with an unidentified young African, which begins this trail in the Main Hall of the Gallery.