Monument to William Ewart

WAG 9846


This artwork has been identified as having links to a person connected with transatlantic slavery. This research is part of the Walker Art Gallery’s ongoing work to be more transparent about the collection’s relationship to Britain's colonial past. When William Ewart died in October 1823, he was worth £330,000 - over £40 million in today's money. The son of a Scottish minister from Dumfries, he earned his wealth in Liverpool's slave economy, trading as a prominent general merchant in the town. He was the co-mortgagee with John Gladstone (1764 - 1851) of the Belmont estate in Demerara, having encouraged Gladstone to explore the commercial opportunities offered there. The extent of his involvement in other plantation estates is still being pieced together. Ewart's firm - Ewart Rutson, later Ewart Myers - was a consignee for slave-owners and his sons continued his legacy to become partners in the firm. The inscription on the plinth upon which he sits reads: TO THE MEMORY / OF / WILLIAM EWART, / AN INTELLIGENT, INDEFATICABLE, / AND SUCCESSFUL / MERCHANT, / A VIRTUOUS AND AMIABLE / MAN. / HIS WIDOW AND CHILDREN, / WITH THE DEEPEST FEELINGS / OF REVERENCE AND REGRET, / HAVE RAISED THIS MONUMENT. / BORN FEBY. 26TH. 1763 - DIED OCTR 8TH 1823. The sculptor of this memorial, Joseph Gott (about 1785 - 1860), was the Yorkshire counterpart of John Gibson (1790 - 1866). The commission for this monument came to Joseph Gott in 1827 through a family connection, Margaret Ewart, William's daughter. She was married to the son of Benjamin Gott, a successful Leeds woollen manufacturer and the sculptor's second cousin. The preparation of the models and agreement of a design took until 1832, but the marble was then completed within the year. Unlike Gibson's reliefs of seated figures with their classical draperies and formal poses, Ewart is presented naturalistically. The right hand seems originally to have held a pair of spectacles.