020: Sarah Forbes Bonetta around 1851
- Sarah Forbes Bonetta as “The Dahomian Captive”
Sarah Forbes Bonetta was brought to England from West Africa in 1850 where she was presented to Queen Victoria who financed her education and became godmother to her daughter Victoria, born 1863. Married to West African merchant, she died in 1880.
Her daughter married a Scotland-qualified doctor, the African John Randle. Living in London in the 1900s Mrs Victoria Davies Randle provided a Nigerian theme to Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who arranged it and published it in his Twenty-four Negro Melodies (Boston, MA: Ditson, 1905).
Before Sarah Bonetta’s fame she posed for this water colour by Octavius Oakley, who was known as a painter of gypsies and personalities including Joseph Paxton. The painting went on sale in London in March 2000 priced at £7,500 when the catalogue subtitled it “the Dahoman Captive”.
My thanks to the late Christopher Fyfe
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