In-depth blog about former slave and boxing legend Bill Richmond (1763-1829); subject of Luke G. Williams' biography, published by Amberley in August 2015.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Richmond and Molineaux on display at the NPG

The great news for Bill Richmond and Tom Molineaux admirers is that Robert Dighton's famous prints of these two groundbreaking pugilists are on display from today at the National Portrait Gallery as part of Simon Schama's new Face of Britain exhibition. Furthermore, Staffordshire portrait figures of Molineaux and Tom Cribb are also part of the exhibit.

The following introduction to the exhibition appears on the NPG's website:
"Simon Schama’s Face of Britain explores how portraiture has been used as a statement of power, a declaration of love, for the promotion of fame, to offer insights into the artists themselves and to capture ordinary people. Portraits can provide a fresh perspective on the history of Britain and the identity of its people. The exhibition is divided into five themes, which are displayed over three floors of the Gallery."
The portraits of Richmond and Molineaux, as well as the Staffordshire figures of Molineaux and Cribb, are all on display in Room 27, entitled "The Face of People". The NPG writes of this section of the exhibition: "The majority of portraits ever painted have been of the great and the good. But there has always been a glorious strain in British art that tells it like it is, and for which all humanity is fit for portrayal. History isn’t just made up of influential people, it is also made up of an infinity of wonderful characters without whom history loses all its richness and human variety. With technological advances in printmaking and photography, portraiture has increasingly recorded and celebrated the individuals in the crowd — faces that might otherwise be forgotten."

The exhibition runs from today (16 September) until 4 January 2016 and admission is free. There is also a BBC TV series to tie in with the exhibition and a book by Schama. I understand that Richmond does not feature in the TV series, but is referenced in the book.

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