Jeffrey Green

Jeffrey is a historian
based south of London

206 : ‘Black Jack’ painted by William Parrott (1813-1869)

The English painter William Parrott is sometimes confused with American namesake William Samuel Parrott (died 1915), which seems to have happened when a painting, dated 1865, was sold in the U.S.A. Black Jack of Tower Hill shows a mature black man, who has lost his lower legs and exposes wooden legs, who is entertaining some children near Tower Hill in the historic centre of London. He is carving a simple, almost raft-like, wooden boat.

At the Hove Museum and Art Gallery on England’s south coast there is another painting by Parrott – The Negro Boatbuilder. Carving a toy boat, on a beach, entertaining six children, is the same black man. Even to the hat which is seen in Black Jack of Tower Hill.

These paintings may be seen on line by entering their titles and searching.

One wonders who the original purchasers were, and if the sitter received a fee. Was he based in London or on the coast?

The Boatbuilder painting was used as an illustration (in colour) in my ‘Before the Windrush’ in History Today (London), October 2000, p 32.

See this website page 201