William Ewart

WAG 3006


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 is a posthumous portrait of the Liverpool-based merchant and trader in enslaved African people, William Ewart (1763 - 1823), who amassed great wealth through his involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, including through financial involvement in a plantation in Demerara. The portrait follows the pose in a print by an unknown artist, featuring Ewart's head and shoulders only, that was published subsequent to his death. William Ewart was a close friend of fellow merchant and owner of enslaved African people. John Gladstone (1764 - 1851), who named his son William Ewart Gladstone (1809 - 1898) after him. The latter, who became the Prime Minister for four terms between 1868 and 1894, was the previous owner of this portrait and presented it to Liverpool in 1873. He too was enmeshed in the slave trade, and as a politician he supported compensation for owners of enslaved African people and defended the West India interest over such matters as sugar duties. The artist Alexander Mosses (1793 - 1837) painted many of the eniment local men of his day, many of whom had made their fortunes through the slave trade.