52/52 Jamaica – Fanny Eaton

Fanny Eaton the muse – a soft sculpture by Marina

Since the Windrush Scandal emerged in 2017, the British public has learned a bit more about Commonwealth immigration particularly from Jamaica. But of course Afro-Caribbean people did not arrive for the very first time on these shores in the 1950s. Black Britons have formed part of our society for hundreds of years, even if there has previously been less cultural and historical evidence of their lives in our museums. However if you walk through the quintessentially British Tate Britain, in the middle of the height of English art in the 1840s gallery, you will see a Jamaican face. It’s the (partially obscured) face of Fanny Eaton, a muse to the Pre-Raphelite painters. In this episode I speak to textile artist Marina Elphick about what we know about Fanny Eaton’s life.

Fanny Eaton is featured as a historic UK champion on the They Did I Can Too website. And you can read more about her and her influence on the Art UK website.

Stocks, Walter Fryer, Mrs. Fanny Eaton, ca. 1859.jpg
Portrait by Walter Fryer Stocks (ca. 1859)
The Beloved (‘The Bride’) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1865) in Tate Britain

To learn more about Black British history, visit the Black Cultural Archives and if you haven’t already watch Small Axe on BBC iPlayer.

This episode ends with a quote from ‘It Dread Inna Inglan’ poem by Linton Kwezi Johnson, written in support of George Lindo who was wrongly jailed in 1978.