Framing Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Portraiture at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne

This is an excellent article about the way that the curators at the Musée de l’Histoire de Nantes have displayed the portraits of Dominique and Marguerite Deurbroucq—and in particular, the way that the curators draw museum-goers’ attention to the enslaved Africans depicted in the portraits.

Age of Revolutions

By Nathan H. Dize

In May 2015, theMusée de l’Histoire de Nantes welcomed two of their most influential citizens of the eighteenth century to their permanent collection. The museum, housed in the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, received two portraits – one of Dominique Deurbroucq and the other of his wife Marguerite – both of which feature prominently in the main exhibition on Atlantic slavery and the slave trade in Nantes. Painted in 1753 by Pierre-Bernard Morlot, the Deurbroucqs are portrayed in all of the luxe of the century, accompanied by their domestic slaves who lived with them in Nantes.  I recently visited the collection and was particularly interested in the framing of these two portraits within the narrative of the tran-Atlantic slave trade and the history of Nantes.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 10.55.21 AM Pierre-Bernard Morlot, Portraits des Deurbroucq, 1753. (Photo credit to Nathan H. Dize)

For museums, memorial sites, and monuments, context…

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