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Dr Bendor Grosvenor investigates the works of German painter Johann Zoffany, while Emma Dabiri looks into Manchester's support for the abolition of slavery.

At the Manchester Art Gallery, Dr Bendor Grosvenor discovers a painting of a country gentleman from the 1770s which he believes has been misattributed to Nathaniel Dance. He feels sure it is in fact by the German painter Johann Zoffany, a favourite portraitist of the royal family under King George III. While the painting is restored, Bendor investigates the life of Zoffany - a chancer and adventurer who squandered his royal patronage through a series of predictable errors of judgement.

Travelling to Florence to see the location of Zoffany's greatest painting, the Tribuna of the Uffizi Gallery, Bendor also visits Parma, where Zoffany painted an extraordinary self-portrait. The artist ended his career in India, where he made a fortune, and Bendor goes to look at Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match in Tate Britain with art historian Sona Datta. They unpack the undercurrent of sexual innuendo Zoffany had filled the picture with.

Emma Dabiri investigates Manchester's support for the abolition of slavery through the history of the gallery's first purchase - a portrait of the black American actor Ira Aldridge. She discovers the story of the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition of 1857, the largest art exhibition ever held in Britain, and looks into the Manchester Gallery attacks by three suffragettes in 1913.

59 minutes

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:43

    Chamber Orchestra "Renaissance", Leo Korchin, Renaissance Chamber Orchestra

    Oboe Concerto In D Minor, S.Z799: I. Allegro Moderato


Role Contributor
Presenter Bendor Grosvenor
Presenter Emma Dabiri
Participant Sona Datta
Director Spike Geilinger
Series Producer Spike Geilinger
Executive Producer Brendan Hughes
Executive Producer Harry Bell
Production Company Tern Television Productions Ltd