About this artwork

Colonel John Blackadder was a Scottish army officer who served in several major European campaigns, including the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), before being made Deputy Governor of Stirling Castle in 1711. He is shown here attended by a young, probably enslaved, black servant. At the time his portrait was painted, probably around 1705, such imagery was not unusual. Black attendants were symbols of luxury and power and as such tended to be depicted in a way that deprived them of their individuality and agency. This is certainly the case in this picture, where the boy’s role is reduced to that of a fashionable accessory – nameless and almost hidden in shadow at the margins of the painting, he holds Blackadder’s helmet whilst looking up towards him as if awaiting new orders.

Published July 2022

  • artist:
  • title:
    Colonel John Blackadder, 1664 - 1729. Deputy Governor of Stirling Castle
  • date created:
    After 1700
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    114.30 x 96.50 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Given by Mrs Kemp 1949
  • accession number:
    PG 1534
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
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