portrait of Leopold II

Contributed by Suzie Marwood

portrait of Leopold II

Used as backing for a Debenham of Cowes photo of my (Cowes born and bred) mother I wanted to re-frame, finding it was NOT a relative, sent to College of Arms who identified it as Leopold II - possibly one of the most evil men to ever live - responsible for the torture and death of thousands of Congolese in the pursuit of trade. What was it doing at the back of a photo of my mother (aged about 8)? Charcoal portrait believed by Debenham of Cowes. He photographed/drew many of the Royal and Aristocratic visitors to Osborne House, home of Queen Victoria, who would come for the Cowes Regatta. He had been a childhood friend of QV but as he grew older, more eccentric and more mired in the mess that was Congo,he was, I believe, an increasingly unwelcome visitor. It is said that one royal had her rooms exorcised after his visit, so ghastly was his behaviour. See Adam Hochschild's book King Leopold's Ghost.

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High St. Cowes Isle of Wight




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