Haunting Portrait – International Slavery Museum, Albert Dock

I have always been a supporter of the National Portrait Gallery in London and never miss a visit when I’m in the capital so I was drawn to this particular work which is on a UK tour. It’s the portrait and background of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo also known as Job Ben Soloman born in Bondu Senegal West Africa in 1701, the first British portrait of a Black African Muslim and freed slave.

The ‘Portrait of a Slave’ as it is so entitled has just gone on display and has created quite a bit of interest with visitors like myself, mystified and intrigued by the portrait’s almost magnetic pull and history.Previously, the picture was lost, and not seen in public until 2010. It was offered to the National Portrait Gallery in London, which launched an appeal to raise its cost of £554,937 to prevent its export. Most of this money was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund, with the gallery launching a public appeal for the remaining £100,000 – such was the interest.

The oil painting of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo by William Hoare a notable portrait painter from Bath, born in 1733, says it all in a picture of expression and pose.

Ayuba was born into a devout Muslim family and captured and taken into slavery during a trading mission. He was transported to America and sold to a plantation owner, before eventually settling in England and then returning to his native land in 1734. It will hang within the Albert Dock attraction’s permanent collection,surrounded by other historical and contemporary stories of slavery, until September. The story of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo is a must for all historians and tells the tale of terror, chance, fortuity, uncertainty and relief at actually getting back to his homeland.

Read the fascinating full story at http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayuba_Suleiman_Diallo

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