Sara Maria Sandbach

WAG 7501


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. In 1852, Sara Maria (née van Capellen 1807-89) married William Robertson Sandbach (1813 - 91) in the Hague. This is a pendant portrait, meaning one of two reliefs intended to be seen as a pair, often depicting married couples. This was possibly commissioned to celebrate their wedding. Sara’s sister Henrietta Maria Louisa van Capellen (1796 - 1863) married Philip Frederick Tinne (1772 - 1844), a partner in Sandbach, Tinne & Co. Strategic unions of marriage such as this were commonplace. It was a way of maintaining the business’s wealth and power. The Sandbach family were part of the Sandbach, Tinne & Co. dynasty. They were shipowners, merchants, bankers, politicians and plantation owners. They exported sugar, coffee, cotton, timber, molasses and rum from the Caribbean. The company were prominent in Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo in British Guiana, now known as Guyana. The Sandbachs became extremely wealthy through the enslavement, trafficking and forced labour of many tens of thousands of people. The legacies of the Sandbach and Tinne families can be seen throughout the collections of National Museums Liverpool. Philip Tinne’s daughter (Sara Maria’s niece), Alexine Tinne (1835-69), spent her inherited fortune on lavish expeditions up the River Nile and she was killed during her attempt to cross the Sahara Desert. She accumulated a large collection of ethnographic objects which are now part of Liverpool’s World Museum collection. A later family member, Emily Margaret Tinne (1886 - 1966), amassed a large collection of clothing purchased in Liverpool between the two World Wars. Her daughter, Alexine Tinne (1923 - 2011), presented the collection to the Walker Art Gallery from 1967. This interpretation was developed in collaboration with 'The Colonial Legacies of the Liverpool Sandbach family' community steering group. More information about this project can be found on the Walker Art Gallery's website.