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Campaign launched to save Diallo portrait

8th July 2010

The National Portrait Gallery has launched a campaign to keep the earliest known portrait of a freed slave in UK, as its temporary export bar is due to expire on August 25th.

William Hoare's 'compelling and moving' picture of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo could be sold to a foreign collector if the gallery cannot raise the GBP 554,937.50 needed to buy the portrait.

The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund have already provided grants to fund the purchase, but the gallery is asking for support from the public to raise the remaining GBP 100,000.

'This exceptional portrait has never been exhibited in public before. If acquired it would become a highlight of the collection, attracting public attention as a work of aesthetic quality and historical interest,' the National Portrait Gallery commented.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was released from a life of slavery by public subscription after his enterprise and good fortune allowed him to mix with London's intellectuals and even saw him presented at the court of King George II. His life was later cited by campaigners as an example of why slaves have moral rights.

Last month, Domenichino's Saint John the Evangelist was kept in the UK after being bought by an anonymous collector and donated to the National Gallery.

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