Robert Gladstone

WAG 7040


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. This portrait, by an unknown British artist, depicts Robert Gladstone (1833 - 1919), a Liverpool merchant and former chairman of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. He was the second cousin of Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone (1809 - 1898). Robert Gladstone's family was deeply immersed in the trade in enslaved African people across several generations. His father, Thomas Steuart Gladstone (1805 - 1882), received compensation for a plantation in Jamaica owned by Robert's grandfather, Robert Gladstone (1773 - 1835). The sitter himself was at the centre of Liverpool's trading economy, described by the Liverpool Journal of Commerce on his death as 'Liverpool King of Commerce'.