John Michael Wright (1617-1694), Portrait of Miss Butterworth of Belfield Hall

Artist: John Michael Wright 1617-1694

Title: Portrait of Miss Butterworth of Belfield Hall

Date: c. 1660s

Medium: oil on canvas

Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service, UK

EMu user since 2008


John Michael Wright, Portrait of Miss Butterworth of Belfield HallThe portrait depicts a woman, thought to be either Mary or Anne Butterworth of Belfield Hall near Rochdale,  having water poured over her hands by a black servant. The Butterworths were a wealthy Rochdale family and at the time this portrait was painted it was fashionable for rich families to keep an enslaved person as a servant. These slaves were often included alongside their owners in society portraits as a sign of wealth and status. At some point the servant was painted out of the picture however, a hidden history that was only revealed by x-ray during conservation work in 1969, when the missing servant was restored.

Acknowledgments: Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service