Portrait of Sir Thomas Picton removed from National Museum of Wales due to slave trade links

Credit to National Museum Wales
Credit: National Museum Wales

A portrait of an 18th century man linked to the slave trade has been removed from the National Museum of Wales.

The painting of Sir Thomas Picton has been replaced with another portrait as part of a youth-led initiative called ‘Reframing Picton’.

Picton's portrait will remain in storage before being redisplayed and "reinterpreted" over the coming months.

Officials at the museum, also known as Amgueddfa Cymru, said this was "another important step" in looking at who is displayed in their gallery and why.

It comes after a statue of Picton was removed from Cardiff City Hall last year, following a campaign and council vote.

A portrait titled ‘Hedger and Ditcher: Portrait of William Lloyd’ has replaced the Picton portrait. Credit: Wales National Museum

The portrait of Thomas Picton was on display in the 'Faces of Wales' gallery at National Museum Wales in Cardiff.

The decision to remove the portrait was made by a youth-led initiative involving Amgueddfa Cymru and their community partner, the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP).

The Director of Collections and Research at Amgueddfa Cymru, Kath Davies, said: “This is another important step for Amgueddfa Cymru in examining our national collections and thinking about  who we display in our Faces of Wales gallery and why."

A painting titled ‘Hedger and Ditcher: Portrait of William Lloyd’ will take the place of Picton’s.

This replacement artwork was painted by Dutch artist Albert Houthuesen who was fascinated with the working life of the colliers in Trelogan, Flintshire, whilst on holiday in the area with his wife in the 1930s.

Ms Davies said: “This project replaces one artwork - which assigns great importance to someone whose actions as Governor of Trinidad even at the time were seen as cruel - with a celebratory portrait of a worker - someone we could today consider to be a hero.”

The portrait of Thomas Picton was on display in the 'Faces of Wales' gallery at National Museum Wales in Cardiff.

Sir Thomas Picton is remembered for his role in the Peninsular War and for being the highest ranking officer killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In 1806 he was convicted of ordering the illegal torture of a 14-year-old girl, Louisa Calderon.

He admitted to the charge but the conviction was later overturned. Picton is also accused of having amassed a substantial fortune after profiting from the then legal slave trade.

Last year, an open letter from Cardiff's Lord Mayor at the time, Dan De'ath, called for the statue to be taken down.

In his own words Cllr De’ath explained: “I feel that it is no longer acceptable for Picton’s statue to be amongst the “Heroes of Wales” in City Hall, and I am calling on you to arrange for its removal from the Marble Hall.”

Work began to remove the statue in July last year.

There is more information on the portrait and the history of Sir Thomas Picton on the Amgueddfa Cymru website.