A Cardiff museum has removed its portrait of slave owner Thomas Picton following public scrutiny.

The painting which was hung in the National Museum in Cardiff, Wales is currently in storage.

We took a look into who Thomas Picton was, why his portrait has been removed and the plans for the painting.

Who was Thomas Picton?

A Welsh Lieutenant-General in the British Army, Sir Thomas Picton was born on 24 August 1758.

Having fought in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Picton died at the Battle of Waterloo in 1851.

Although the portrait labelled Picton as a hero, he was a known slave owner and was put on trial in England for the authorisation of the torturing of local people whilst he was the Governor of Trinidad.

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One of the victims included a girl as young as 14 years old, Luisa Calderon, who was tortured following an accusation of her stealing.

Why has the portrait of Thomas Picton been removed?

The decision to remove the painting of Picton, which has hung in the Welsh National Museum for over 100 years, was made by a youth-led initiative that involves Amgueddfa Cymru and the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel.

Due to the history of Thomas Picton and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, this is not the only artwork of Picton which has been removed.

In 2020, Cardiff council voted to remove a marble statue of Picton which stood in City hall’s Hall of Heroes.

What will happen to the portrait of Thomas Picton?

The portrait currently remains in storage and is set to be replaced by ‘Hedger and Ditcher: Portrait of William Lloyd’, painted by artist Albert Houthuesen in 1937.

The youth-led initiative at the National Museum will be reinstating the portrait of Picton, however, reinterpreted to represent the true story of Picton and give further context to the history behind the painting.

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