Sir John Gladstone

WAG 1134


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. John Gladstone (1764 - 1851) mentions sitting for this portrait in a letter of 2 February 1843. It was written to his son Robertson Gladstone (1805 - 1875), whom he asked to send him copies of the last reports of the Liverpool Dock Revenue, the West India Association and the Shipowners' Association, so that these could be placed on a table beneath his right hand. Each report stands as a symbol of the sitter's deep involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, as one of the largest of owners of enslaved African people in the Caribbean and a highly influential figure in the West India lobby. He was involved in multiple claims for compensation totalling around £113,000 under the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). The donor of this portrait to the Walker was Arthur Stewart (or Steuart) Gladstone (1869 - 1940), who worked in the East India trade and was was a well-known figure in Liverpool business circles. His probate records he left an estate valued at £148,700 19s. There are multiple versions of this portrait. The artist William Bradley (1801 - 1857) was a Manchester-born portrait painter who made a successful career in London between 1822 and 1847.