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. Gilman, a keen gardener himself, was a pupil at The Slade together with Spencer Gore, Wyndham Lewis, and was a founder member of Walter SickertÂ’s Camden Town School. 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.


Peter Langan.

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