This portrait of Peter Beckford was commissioned in London by his grandson William to help fabricate a noble lineage for the family. Benjamin West painted Peter posthumously in a fanciful interpretation of seventeenth-century elite dress, holding a map of his lucrative sugar-producing estates in Jamaica. British Jamaicans became immensely wealthy from sugar and coffee plantations worked by hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans. Despite their wealth, planters and their descendants often remained insecure about their families’ merchant-class origins.
Oil on canvas
57 1/2 × 45 3/8 in., 121 lb. (146 × 115.2 cm, 54.89kg)
frame: 70 x 58 x 4 in. (177.8 x 147.3 x 10.2 cm) (show scale)
Signed, lower left: "B.West / 1797"
This item is not on view
Gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband, John W. Brown, by exchange
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Benjamin West (American, 1738-1820). Peter Beckford, 1797. Oil on canvas, 57 1/2 × 45 3/8 in., 121 lb. (146 × 115.2 cm, 54.89kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband, John W. Brown, by exchange, 2012.44 (Photo: Sotheby’s Photography, CUR.2012.44_Sotheby_photograph.jpg)
. Sotheby’s Photography
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