Garden Museum acquires unique Gilman portrait
The Art Fund has helped the Garden Museum in London purchase Portrait of a Black Gardener by Harold Gilman at auction.
This enigmatic image, originally entitled Portrait of a Negro Gardener was painted by Gilman in 1905 and is an important cultural and historic artefact; it is also likely to be the earliest example in 20th century British art of a person of sub-Saharan origin to be the sole subject of a full-length portrait.
Although the sitter is thought to be a model, this unique acquisition will help the museum re-orientate its collection towards the diversity of a central London audience.
Gilman, a keen gardener himself, was a pupil at The Slade together with Spencer Gore, Wyndham Lewis, and was a founder member of Walter Sickert’s Camden Town School.
The Art Fund gave a grant of £5,000 towards the full cost of the painting which was bought at auction for £127,000; further funds were raised via the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Royal Horticultural Society.