Kuarke, the woman portrayed in this painting, was one of a group of six men and women from the Ituri forest in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, who were persuaded to come to Britain by big-game hunter Colonel Harrison, and toured the country from 1905 to 1907. The group arrived in June 1905 and first appeared on stage at the London Hippodrome. Afterwards they went on a theatrical tour of England and Scotland. They came to Oxford, where they visited the Pitt Rivers Museum. It is possible that this portrait was painted on that occasion, but the exact circumstances of its production are unknown. The artist also produced a pastel portrait of Bokani, another member of the group. These are by no means the only depictions of members of the group. Postcards were widely available, the sculptor William Goscombe John made a bust of Bokani, and the Gramophone Company in London produced phonograph records of their songs and conversation.
Where to see this painting?
The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
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