Ruins of Rome

WAG 2794


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 painting was previously owned by William Earle (1760 - 1839). Earle came from a prominent family of merchants and ship-owners who were active in a wide range of commercial activities, including the trafficking of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. In the 1830s William Earle and his business partners Thomas Earle (1754 - 1822) and Thomas Molyneux (1753 - 1835) acquired a plantation in British Guiana (now Guyana). They received compensation for freed enslaved African people under the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). 'Ruins of Rome' was later owned by James Aikin (1792 - 1878). Aikin was a Liverpool merchant and ship-owner. His children benefitted from the transatlantic slave trade thanks to the bequest left to them by their uncle, the trader of enslaved African people, William Aikin (died 1837). The artist of this painting, Giovanni Paolo Panini (about 1692 - 1765), was Rome’s most celebrated exponent of the ‘capriccio’, an imaginary re-arrangement of the city’s notable buildings and monuments. Among those included in the present work are the Temple of Hadrian on the left, the Pantheon, centre left, and Trajan’s Column on the right.