The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840
1 of 4 portraits of William Harris Murch
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue
The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840
by Benjamin Robert Haydon
117 in. x 151 in. (2972 mm x 3836 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Signed and dated (on one of the steps, bottom left): B. R. HAYDON./1841.
This portraitback to top
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.
The convention of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was held in London in June 1840. The aims of the Society were the universal abolition of slavery and the slave trade, and the protection of emancipated negroes in the British Colonies. The convention considered and discussed a number of issues: the treatment of slaves in America, and the internal slave trade in the southern states; the condition of emancipated labourers in British Colonies; different forms of slavery throughout the world; the conduct of various religious bodies in the United States; and the condition of coloured people who had fled to Canada. At the opening session, it was decided to exclude female delegates; this led to the withdrawal of a number of American delegates, like W. Lloyd Garrison, who watched proceedings from the gallery. The first meeting at Freemasons' Hall on 12 June 1840 was presided over by the aged Thomas Clarkson, one of the founders of the anti-slavery movement in England. The convention continued its sittings until 24 June, when it concluded with a meeting at Exeter Hall presided over by the Duke of Sussex. Amongst the more distinguished people attending the convention were Daniel O'Connell, Joseph Sturge, Wendell Phillips, Sir Thomas Buxton, Stephen Lushington, Amelia Opie, Lady Byron, Thomas Binney, Sir John Jeremie, Samuel Gurney and Sir John Bowring.
In his pamphlet on the picture, Haydon wrote ('Description of Haydon's Picture', 1841, pp 7-8):
'Of all the meetings for benevolent purposes which were ever held in London, none ever exceeded in interest or object that which met at the Great Room, Freemasons' Tavern, in June 1840, headed by the venerable Clarkson, and composed of delegates from various parts of the world, in order to consult on the most effectual method of abolishing the curse of Slavery from those countries which, in spite of the noble example set them by England, still maintained it in all its atrocity and horror. The day before the meeting a deputation of gentlemen waited on me, to ask if I thought such an assemblage, with such a leader, might not be a subject fit for an historical picture? As it was necessary for me to be present before I decided, they invited me to attend the next day; and I candidly acknowledge I did so, rather unwilling to be drawn from my painting-room, and expecting nothing more than the usual routine of a public meeting - votes of thanks, and such like things. On entering the meeting at the time appointed, I saw at once I was in the midst of no common assembly. The venerable and benevolent heads which surrounded me, soon convinced me that materials existed of character and expression in the members present, provided any one moment of pictorial interest (on a fact) should occur. I immediately prepared for a sketch, and drew slightly with a pen on the back of my ticket the general characteristics of room and meeting.'
Haydon wrote in his Diary under 12 June 1840 (Diary, IV, 640):
'Exceedingly excited, exhausted. I attended the great Convention of the Anti-slavery Society at Freemasons' Hall. Clarkson was there, and last Wednesday a Deputation called on me from the Committee, saying they wished a Sketch of the Scene. The meeting was very affecting … I returned after making various Sketches, and put in an oil one.'
The exact reasons why Haydon was selected for the commission are not known (he said himself that it was the result of no connection or influence), though his advanced political opinions and deep religious sympathies would have recommended him to the largely Quaker Anti-Slavery Society. His only previously commissioned group portrait was the 'Reform Banquet, 1832' (collection of Lady Mary Howick, Howick).
Haydon decided to represent in his picture the concluding moments of Clarkson's speech, which had made a powerful impression on the assembly (a copy of the speech is in the British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 178-9):
'The women wept - the men shook off their tears, unable to prevent their flowing; for myself I was so affected and so astonished, that it was many minutes before I recovered, sufficiently to perceive the moment of interest I had longed for had come to pass.' ('Description of Haydon's Picture', 1841, p 10)
Clarkson is shown in the centre finishing his speech:
'Behind, beneath, and about him, are the oldest and dearest friends of the cause - whilst a liberated slave, now a delegate, is looking up to Clarkson with deep interest, and the hand of a friend is resting with affection on his arm, in fellowship and protection; this is the point of interest in the picture, and illustrative of the object in painting it - the African sitting by the intellectual European, in equality and intelligence, whilst the patriarch of the cause points to heaven as to whom he must be grateful.' ('Description of Haydon's Picture,' 1841, p 10)
William Lucas, who had noticed Haydon sketching the scene in Freemasons' Hall, doubted his 'having stability and perseverance enough to finish' (A Quaker Journal, I, 202). Haydon, however, threw himself into the task with his accustomed enthusiasm and frenzy, having been assured by the Society that he would not suffer any loss for the sketch (Diary, IV, 641); he eventually received £525 (see Diary, V, 260). He drew Clarkson on 13 June and again on 15 June 1840: 'Breakfasted with Clarkson, and made another & a more aged Sketch, though a friend said of the other, "It had an indignant humanity"' (Diary, IV, 641). From 16-20 June, Haydon sketched continuously in the convention, remarking on the latter date that he had done fifty-two sketches of heads in five days. The following day, he wrote, 'This Convention has affected me deeply - too many heads, too remarkable diversity' (Diary, IV, 642).
Haydon began work on the picture itself on 24 June, the last day of the convention, remarking excitedly that he hoped it would 'advance the great cause of Abolition' (Diary, IV, 642).
The vicissitudes of the picture are graphically described in Haydon's diary, and in his letters to the Clarksons. At times elated and at times depressed, he continued with his work almost uninterruptedly for nearly a year. His comments on his sitters are, by turns, laudatory, ironical, and contemptuous. He was quick to detect signs of insincerity and vanity in his subjects, and he poured scorn on their weaknesses. Early on, he had decided to place the negro delegate, Henry Beckford, from Jamaica, in the foreground of the picture, as a potent symbol of emancipation. Those members of the convention who objected to Beckford's prominent position were themselves relegated to the back rows.
Although the picture carries little conviction as a work of art, or as a statement about the Anti-Slavery movement, it was conceived and executed in a state of impassioned idealism. Haydon wrote characteristically to Mary Clarkson on 26 June 1840 (British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 205-06): 'My heart & soul is in the Work … Never was a subject more worthy … It is now half in … & the Canvas will be all covered by tomorrow - You look simple & sweet & so does your Boy, even in the rough state - and your venerable Father is in his own attitude & position'. On the following day, he wrote in his Diary (IV, 643): 'My sketches & the great Picture is sublime.'
On 29 June 1840 he drew the American Lucretia Mott, whom he considered to have 'infidel notions, & resolved at once (narrow-minded or not) not to give her the prominent place I intended first. I will reserve that for a beautiful believer in the Divinity of Christ' (Diary, IV, 644). On 30 June, Lloyd Garrison sat (he does not appear in the finished group), and on 3 July Lady Byron, who deeply impressed Haydon. Throughout July, he worked hard, drawing heads and transcribing them on to the canvas. In a letter to Clarkson of 8 July 1840 (British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 214-15), he wrote:
'I am hard at work. The picture is all composed & rubbed in & Sturge, the negro, Scoble, Seakam, & Thompson done - I shall have 150 Portraits - I determined to place the negro (Beckford) on a level with the abolitionist - & have done so, and it tells the story at once -you seen addressing him … It will make a glorious Picture - depend on it and it will affect the people as to the vast effect of Commemorative Art.'
The progress of the picture can be followed in Haydon's diary in detail. On 14 July, he wrote characteristically (Diary, IV, 647):
'Birney said Negro children equal Whites till seven, when, perceiving the degradation of their Parents, they felt degraded & cowed! Dreadful! Birney had discharged all his own Slaves. These Delegates are extraordinary Men in head, feature, & principle.'
And again on 18 July (Diary, IV, 648):
'Hard at work. Put in Prescod, the best painted head yet - capital tone. This picture will be to me a glorious study. I have done six heads this week. God be praised.'
Mrs Clarkson and her son sat again on 24 July, and on 29 July Haydon 'Sketched the head & advanced Clarkson' (Diary, IV, 650); he had already borrowed Clarkson's clothes to paint from (see his letter of 19 July 1840 to Clarkson, British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 222). Amelia Opie, whom Haydon thought 'a delightful Creature' (Diary, IV, 651), sat on 31 July and on 1 and 3 August. On 8 August, he wrote (Diary, IV, 652):
'Worked hard - completed 10 heads this week. I think the neck of the Picture is broken. I began 24 of June. 32 heads are done - 7 days over for rubbing in & getting the Picture in order.'
Buxton sat on 15 August, '[his] head is a singular expression of tenacity of purpose, and irresolution, yet he keeps to his object, in spite of his own conscious weakness of self will' (Diary, IV, 661); Haydon's study of Buxton is in the NPG (3782). Haydon's long bouts of work were productive. On 22 August, he noted (Diary, IV, 663): 'Nothing astonishes me so much as my rapidity with this Picture. It is truly the result of all my previous fagging - for years'. He had moments of depression and lethargy, becoming, as he wrote (Diary, V, 4), 'faint & sick of "the human face divine"’, but his sense of purpose and dedication rarely wavered. One day he would work 'lazily, and the next gloriously hard', but 'Certainly for 3 months I have not been Idle a week' (Diary, V, 6). On 3 October, he worked on the background colour, '& splashed in a negative tint, which did exactly & which was delightful' (Diary, V, 7). By 20 October, he had finished half the architectural background, and by the end of this month he remarked that the picture was three-fourths done. He continued to have sittings for the heads, drawing Sir Eardley Wilmot on 13 and 15 October, R. R. Madden on 6 November, and Dr Lushington on 11 and 16 November. Around this time, the Society who had commissioned the group, decided to increase the number of people represented: 'Their bringing me 31 heads more, after arranging 103, is rather a joke, but if they like, they shall have heads all over, like a peacock's tail' (Diary, V, 15).
In December 1840 and January 1841, Haydon spent several days lecturing in the provinces, and was able to devote little time to his picture. By the end of January, however, he was once again hard at work, writing on 26 January 1841 (Diary, V, 29): 'Yesterday I rubbed out the Curtain & improved the whole effect. An Architect said today it did not look like a Picture, but like the thing itself'. Daniel O'Connell sat on 9 February, 'a keen, lynx look, and great good nature, but cunning & trick[y]' (Diary, V, 31). On 13 February, Haydon felt very dizzy, 'from painting 8 hours on the Floor' (Diary, V, 33). For the rest of the month, and throughout March, he worked energetically. On 9 March, he added the drapery on the right of the picture: 'Adapted the improvement with great Effect' (Diary, V, 37). By 12 March he had painted in one hundred and twenty heads: 'I am bringing this work rapidly to a conclusion' (Diary, V, 37). He wrote to Clarkson on 19 March 1841 (British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 232-3):
'The Picture is drawing rapidly to a close; such is the anxiety to be in it that abolitionists have come I verily believe from all the quarters of the Globe ... I trust in God, it will have a moral influence on the sacred cause, and by exciting attention contribute however humbly to keep up the desire among other more effectual stimulants the imperishable desire for the ultimate extinction of the greatest curse ever afflicted on creatures gifted with life & sensibility.'
The 'rush to be in' the picture, and the envy which it aroused, disgusted Haydon. On 26 March 1841, he drew Samuel Fox, and Professor Adams and Dr Murch on the following day. On 29 March, he improved the background, and wrote in his Diary on 31 March (V, 41): 'Last day of the Month in which I have, thank God, brought my Picture to a conclusion except toning & one head, which I go to Bristol to do tommorrow - Joseph Reynolds. For all thy mercies, O God, during its progress, accept my deep gratitude. Amen'. On 6 April, Haydon visited Clarkson at Playford Hall, and drew him again on the 8th. He put in Reynolds, and 'finished & improved Clarkson' (Diary, V, 48) on 12 April. Twelve days later he wrote (Diary, V, 48): 'I have now completed really my last head this day. The Picture is, in fact, except toning done'. Three days later Haydon inscribed the names of Wilberforce, Sharpe and Toussaint on the curtain in the picture, but was forced to remove them by the Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (for his letter, and Haydon's comments, see Diary, V, 49 and n). On 30 April 1841 the picture was completely finished, and it was varnished on 4 and 5 May, and a few alterations to the tone of the background made on the following day.
The exhibition of the picture at the Egyptian Gallery opened on 13 May 1841, with an accompanying catalogue. The private view was 'crowded by nobility, gentry, clergy, delegates in drab … ladies of rank, male and female friends' (Elmes, p 305). The exhibition was noticed in the press, although not in the Times or the leading art journals; the Advertiser wrote a favourable review, while the Post called it 'a great abortion in historical art' (see Diary, V, 50n). Haydon himself felt that 'The Picture as an Exhibition has failed entirely' (Diary, V, 50), and he was upset by the critical response to it: 'The Criticism of this Picture has been absurd. Because it looks like mere Nature, the Criticks think the Art has been overlooked; whereas, there is as much, or more Art, in this artless look than in many Compositions of more profundity' (Diary, V, 53). In a later note, written in 1843, Haydon voiced a more cynical view:
'I have painted two such works [as Hayter's 'House of Commons, 1833', NPG 54] - the Quakers & the Whigs, but if I ever paint a third, I'll compose it as if I was composing an ancient Subject & fit on modern heads on principles of Art, not bend principles of art to modern Vanity. The Quaker Picture was so much a dozen; after the Composition was settled, I used to get notes from Joseph Sturge, "Friend Haydon, I would thank thee to put in the bearer (an old abolitionist)". There were at least 50 heads where no bodies could be squeezed, according to perspective ... I painted the picture for 525, & lost 248.16.8 by the exhibition of it.' (Diary, V, 259-60)
Among the abolitionists themselves, reactions to the picture were mixed. Mrs Clarkson wrote to her daughter (British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 252): 'The Picture is the most wonderful thing l ever saw & far surpassed any thing that I could have imagined ... Nothing ever appeared to me so like enchantment'. William Lucas voiced a more general opinion (A Quaker Journal, I, 241, 18 May 1841):
'Haydon's great picture of Anti-slavery Convention, a waggon load of heads, poor as a work of art but interesting from the number of portraits; these, though most may be recognized, are none of them faithful; they may all be said to be Haydonized. Clarkson not enough of the feeble old man.'
Concerning the likenesses Lucas had previously noted that: 'The best are those of T. Clarkson, W. Allen, F. Buxton, S. Gurney, Josiah Forster, Wm Forster, G. Stacey, J Scoble, Stanton, Amelia Opie, Scales of Leeds' (A Quaker Journal, I, 231, 26 December 1840). Lucas' criticism of the likenesses was echoed by Haydon himself (Diary, V, 16):
'My Portraits are never happy likenesses, yet they all come - they are strong, vigorous, natural likenesses. But they (my Sitters) seem ambitious to be able to say, "I too was an Arcadian, I too was one of his illustrious Victims".'
In the same vein, one of his sitters, Miss Patty Smith (not apparently included in the finished group), had written to Mrs Clarkson (British Museum, Add MS, 41267A, f 209):
'His sketches are fine & he has given immense variety of character to the delegates but I doubt whether he is an adept in the peculiarity of likeness - Grandeur is his forte - Mr C looks like a Homer or a Belisarius - an affecting noble head, but not quite his Mr C's Eye ... He has made rather a magnificent sharp-nosed gaunt old lady of me very flattering certainly - picturesque & heroic.'
In spite of Haydon's intense artistic ambitions, his picture of the 'Anti-Slavery Society Convention', like so many of his large paintings, does not live up to its promise. Even at a technical level, for instance in the arrangement of the space and the figures, it borders on the incompetent; the transition between the sea of faces in the foreground and the dim and distant background of the hall is crudely handled. The composition is monotonous and curiously implausible; Clarkson, with his upraised arm, is not a satisfactory point of focus for the crowded ranks of faces. The picture remains a 'waggon-load of heads', neither psychologically nor spatially related to one another, and apparently without bodies. Haydon was aware of this last defect, remarking that 'at last the picture threatened to become nothing but heads, without room for bodies' (Elmes, p 306). Individually, some of the heads have a certain fierce and brooding power (they might be the work of a romantic German painter), but the overall conception is pedestrian. Haydon later wrote of Hayter's 'House of Commons' group (NPG 54), that 'The Time is fast coming when we shall get sick of these bastard "High Art Works"’ (Diary, V, 259), but his own picture belongs to the same genre, and reflects the same uneasy coalition of group portraiture and history painting.
Although Haydon clearly executed a vast number of studies for his picture (references to sittings will be found in his Diary), very few can now be located. A pen-and-ink study for the whole composition is in the British Museum (Add MS, 41267A, f 216), a drawing of Buxton is in the NPG (3782), and two groups of drawings of heads were owned by A. T. Playfair and E. Kersley, 1952; the latter were sold at Sotheby's (book sale), 11 March 1952 (lot 154). These studies of heads are noted with the names of the individual sitters listed below. The list, based on that in the 'Description of Haydon's Picture', 1841, is arranged alphabetically, with the dates of the sitters, if known, the places they represented in the convention and their numbers in the key in brackets. An asterisk beside the name of a sitter denotes that other portraits of him are included in this catalogue. The following people are represented:
Adam, Professor. Delegate from Massachusetts, USA (129).
Adey, Rev Edward. Delegate from Leighton Buzzard (101).
Alexander, George William (1802-90). Treasurer of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (7). Pencil study, 1841: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Allen, Richard (1787-1873). Delegate from the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society (75). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Allen, Stafford (1806-89). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (30A).
Allen, William (1770-1843). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti- Slavery Society (2).
Baines, Edward (later Sir Edward) (1800-90). Delegate from Leeds (22A).
Baldwin, Edward. Delegate from the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society (76).
Bannister, Saxe (1790-1877). Delegate from the Aboriginees Protection Society (122).
Barrett, Edward. An emancipated slave; delegate from the Western Baptist Union, Jamaica (83). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Barrett, Richard. Delegate from Croydon (92A).
Bass, Isaac (1782-1855). Delegate from Brighton (116). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Beaumont, Abraham (1782-1848). Of Stamford Hill (24). Beaumont, John (1788-1862). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (12).
Beaumont, Mrs John (1790-1853). Of London (96).
Beaumont, William (1790-1869). Delegate from Newcastle-on-Tyne (28).
Beckford, Henry. An emancipated slave; delegate from the Western Baptist Union, Jamaica (36).
Bennett, George. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from the Congregational Union of England and Wales (124).
Bevan, Rev William. One of the secretaries of the convention; member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Liverpool (40).
*Binney, Rev Thomas (1798-1874). Delegate from the Associated Churches and Ministers in the Isle of Wight (82).
Birney, James Gillespie (1792-1857). One of the vice-presidents of the convention; delegate from the American and New York Anti-Slavery Societies (11). Pencil study, 1840: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Birt, Rev John. Delegate from Manchester (99). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Blackhouse, Jonathan. Delegate from Darlington (21).
Blair, W. T.. One of the vice-presidents of the convention; delegate from Bath (25).
Boultbee, William. Delegate from Birmingham (113). Bowly, Samuel (1802-84). Delegate from Gloucester (20). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
*Bowring, John (later Sir John) (1792-1872). Delegate from Exeter (55). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Bradburn, George. Delegate from the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society (13).
Brock, Rev William (1807-75). Delegate from Norfolk and Norwich (77).
Bulley, Thomas. Delegate from Liverpool (106).
Burnet, Rev John. Delegate from the Congregational Union of England and Wales (39). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
*Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell (1786-1845). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (14). Pencil study: NPG 3782.
Byron, Lady (1792-1860). (50).
Cadbury, Rev Tapper (1768-1860). Delegate from Birmingham (102).
Carlile, Rev James (1784-1854). Delegate for Bradford, Wiltshire (81).
Care, Peter (1781-1851). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Manchester (57).
Clarkson, Thomas (1760-1846). President of the Convention (1). Two pencil studies, 1840 and 1841: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Clarkson, Master Thomas. Grandson of the president of the convention (10).
Clarkson, Mrs Mary. Widow of the late T. Clarkson, junior, and daughter-in-law of the president of the convention (9).
Colver, Rev Nathaniel. Delegate from the American Baptist and Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Societies (64). Pencil study, 1840: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Conder, Josiah (1789-1855). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
Cooper, Joseph (1800-81). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (56).
Cox, Rev Francis Augustus (1783-1853). Delegate from the Congregation, Hare Street, Hackney (22).
Crewdson, Isaac (1780-1844). Delegate from Manchester (108). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Crewdson, William Dillworth. Honorary member of the com¬mittee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Kendal (32). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Cropper, John, junior. Honorary member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Liverpool (33).
Dawes, William. Delegate from the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society (19). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Dean, Professor James. Delegate from Vermont, USA (74).
Eaton, Joseph (1793-1858). Delegate from Bristol (65). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Ellis, John (1789-1862). Delegate from Leicester (88).
Fairbank, William (1771-1846). Delegate from Sheffield (111).
Forster, Josiah (1782-1870). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (5).
Forster, Robert (1792-1873). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (46).
Forster, William (1784-1854). Delegate from Norfolk and Norwich (6).
Fox, Samuel (1781-1868). Delegate from Nottingham (20A).
Galusha, Rev Eton. Delegate from the American Baptist Anti-Slavery Society (80). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Godwin, Rev B.. Delegate from the Baptist Church, Oxford (69).
Greville, Robert Kaye (1794-1866). One of the vice-presidents of the convention; delegate from Edinburgh (18).
Grosvenor, Rev Cyrus Pitt. Delegate from the National and American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Societies. Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Gurney, Samuel (1786-1856). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (3). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Head, George Head. Delegate from Carlisle (47). Pencil study, 1840: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Hinton, Rev John Howard (1791-1873). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (84). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Hodgson, Isaac (1783-1847). Delegate from Leicester (105).
Isambert, M. M.. Secretary of the French Society for the Abolition of Slavery (29).
James, Rev John Angell (1785-1859). Delegate from Birmingham, and for Jamaica (85).
James, Rev William. Delegate from Bridgwater (119).
Jeremie, Sir John (1795-1841). Governor-general of Sierra Leone; honorary member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (61). Pencil study, 1840: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Johnson, Rev J. H.. Delegate from Devizes (58).
Kay, William. Delegate from Liverpool (107).
Keep, Rev John. Delegate from the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society (66). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Ketley, Rev Joseph. Honorary member of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Demerara (41).
Knibb, Rev William (1803-45). Delegate from the Western Baptist Union, Jamaica (38).
Knight, Miss Ann (1792-1860). Of Chelmsford (95). Two pencil studies: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Leatham, William (1783-1842). Delegate from Wakefield (30).
Lecesne, L. C.. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (23).
Lester, Rev C. Edwards. Delegate from the Bleeker Street Church, USA (54).
L'Instant, M.. Delegate from Haiti (45).
Lucas, Samuel. Delegate from Croydon (23A).
*Lushington, Dr Stephen (1782-1873). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (15).
McDonnell, Rev T. M.. Delegate from Birmingham (97).
*Madden, Dr Richard Robert (1798-1886). Delegate from the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society (86).
Marriage, Joseph, junior (1807-84). Delegate from Chelmsford (27).
Miller, Colonel Jonathan. Delegate from Vermont, USA (63).
Moorsom, Captain (later vice-admiral) Constantine Richard (1792-1861). Delegate from Birmingham (67).
Morgan, Rev Thomas. Delegate from Birmingham, and for the Pembrokeshire Association (87).
Morgan, William. One of the secretaries of the convention; member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Birmingham (35).
Morrison, Rev John. Delegate from the Durham County Association of Congregational Churches (72).
Mott, James. Delegate from Pennsylvania, USA (92).
Mott, Mrs Lucretia (1793-1880). Of the USA (127).
Murch, Dr. Delegate from the Baptist Union (131).
Norton, Hon John T.. Delegate from Connecticut, USA (93).
*O'Connell, Daniel (1775-1847). Delegate from the Hibernian and Glasgow Anti-Slavery Societies (17). Pencil study, 1841: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Opie, Mrs Amelia (1769-1853). Of Norwich (49). Pencil study, possibly representing her: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Pease, Joseph, senior (1772-1846). Delegate from Darlington (26).
Pease, Miss Elizabeth. Of Darlington (94).
Peek, Richard. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Kingsbridge, Devon (60A).
Phillips, Wendell (1811-84). One of the secretaries of the convention; delegate from Massachusetts, USA (52).
Pinches, Thomas. Delegate from Birmingham (103). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Post, Jacob (1774-1855). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (51).
Prescod, Samuel J.. Delegate from Bridge Town, Barbados (43).
Price, Dr Thomas. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (115).
Prince, Dr G. K.. Delegate from Chesterfield (71).
Rathbone, Richard. Delegate from Liverpool (100).
Rawson, Mrs. Of Sheffield (48).
Reynolds, Joseph (1769-1859). Delegate from Bristol (114). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Sams, Joseph (1784-1860). Delegate from Barnard Castle (98). Scales, Rev Thomas. One of the secretaries of the convention; member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Leeds (34).
Scoble, John. One of the secretaries of the convention; honorary member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Newark (37).
Smeal, William (1792-1877). Delegate from Glasgow and Paisley (109).
Smith, Edward. Delegate from Sheffield (104). Pencil study: A. T. Playfair, 1952.
Soul, Joseph. Of Islington (126).
Stacey, George (1787-1857). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (4).
Stanton, Henry B.. One of the secretaries of the convention; delegate from the American and New York Anti-Slavery Societies (44).
Steane, Rev Edward. Delegate from the Baptist Union (118).
Steer, John (1780-1856). Delegate from Derby (91).
Sterry, Henry (1803-69). Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (78).
Sterry, Richard (1785-1865). Delegate from Croydon (70).
Stovel, Rev Charles. Delegate from the Baptist Union (60).
Stuart, Captain Charles. Delegate from Jamaica (62).
Sturge, John. Delegate from Birmingham (59).
Sturge, Joseph (1793-1859). One of the vice-presidents of the convention; honorary member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from Birmingham and Jamaica (31).
Swan, Rev Thomas. Delegate from Birmingham (117).
Tatum, William (1783-1862). Delegate from Rochester and Chatham (121).
Taylor, Rev Henry. Delegate from Woodbridge (89).
Taylor, William. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (68).
Thompson, George (1804-78). Delegate from the Edinburgh and Glasgow Anti-Slavery Societies (42).
Tredgold, J. Harfield. Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (8).
Tredgold, Mrs. Of London (130).
Tuckett, Henry. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society
Turnbull, David. British consul at Havana; member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (90).
Webb, Richard D. Delegate from the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society (120).
Wheeler, Samuel (1776-1858). Delegate from Rochester (112). Pencil study: Sotheby's, 11 March 1952 (lot 154).
Whitehorne, James. Delegate from Bristol, and for Jamaica (123).
Wilmot, Sir John Eardley Eardley, Bart (1783-1847). Hon corresponding member of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (16).
Wilson, William. Delegate from Nottingham (125).
Woodmark, Rev John. Member of the committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society; delegate from the Congregational Union of England and Wales (110).
Referenceback to top
Bryant and Baker (eds.) 1934
A Quaker Journal: Being the Diary and Reminiscences of William Lucas of Hitchin (1804-1861), edited G. E. Bryant and G. P. Baker (1934), I, 201-2, 231 and 241.
‘Description of Haydon’s Picture of the Great Meeting of Delegates Held at the Freemasons’ Tavern, June 1840, for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade Throughout the World’, 1841.
J. Elmes, Thomas Clarkson: a Monograph (1854), pp 296-313.
E. George, The Life and Death of Benjamin Robert Haydon (1948), pp 241-2.
G. Patson, B. R. Haydon and his Friends (1905), pp 237-9, 242.
H. Richard, Memoirs of Joesph Sturge (1864), pp 216-219.
Pope (ed.) 1960-3
The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon, edited W. B. Pope (Cambridge, Mass, 1960-3), I, 210n; IV, 640-64; V, 3-53, 259-60, and 296.
Taylor (ed.) 1853
Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon ... from his Autobiography and Journals, edited Tom Taylor, (1853) III, 154-76.
Physical descriptionback to top
A full inspection of the picture was not possible, because of its fixed position and enormous size. The painting is predominantly dark in tone; the high-lighted heads stand out from the generally black costumes and prevailing gloom; two gilt chandeliers in the centre and on the right; red curtain top right, with a red and gilt cord to the left of it; dark grey and brown architecture in the background; red gallery below, with white high-lights on the background figures; large grey pillar at left, with a full-length portrait of a man just to the left of it; Clarkson is shown standing in front of a wooden armchair covered in red, resting one hand on a table, with a white cloth, and on it a black inkstand and quill and red sealing-wax, a rolled white document or newspaper, and two brown leather volumes, the top one entitled on the spine, 'EAST INDIES/ 1837', and the other, ‘CLARKSON/ON THE/SLAVE TRADE'; greyish-brown wooden or stone steps (three) on the left, covered with a red carpet; lightish brown wooden floor in foreground, with two unidentified brown leather-bound volumes lying on it; the backs of several wooden chairs are visible above.
Provenanceback to top
Commissioned by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1840, and presented by them, 1880.
View all known portraits for Thomas Binney (Benny)
View all known portraits for Sir John Bowring
View all known portraits for Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Bt
View all known portraits for Thomas Clarkson
View all known portraits for Benjamin Robert Haydon
View all known portraits for William Knibb
View all known portraits for Stephen Lushington
View all known portraits for Richard Robert Madden
View all known portraits for Daniel O'Connell
View all known portraits for Amelia Opie
View all known portraits for George Thompson
Do, draw and make!
Do, draw and make!
From building dens to food faces – enjoy our Playful Portraits activities and find out about some brilliant people!
Activities for children and families inspired by three healthcare heroes from our Collection.
Downloadable and web based resources to support learning at home linked to art, history, citizenship and literacy.