Portrait of William Duguid

Prince Demah Barnes American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 723

William Duguid, a Scottish immigrant textile importer based in Boston, is the subject of this engaging portrait. In 1773 he sat for Prince Demah, a painter of African descent, who was the "property" of merchant Henry Barnes. Impressed with his talent, Barnes took him to London in 1771, where he studied briefly with Robert Edge Pine. Demah’s story is extraordinary—he is the only enslaved artist working in colonial America whose paintings are known to have survived. To date, three portraits by him have been identified. When the Loyalist Barnes family fled to England in 1775, the artist remained in Boston, identifying himself as "Prince Demah, limner" and a "free Negro." He enlisted in the Massachusetts militia in 1777 to fight against the British, but died of an unknown illness the following year.

Portrait of William Duguid, Prince Demah Barnes, Oil on canvas, American

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