Anshuman Jha: Wish art and politics were kept apart

The ongoing political tension between Canada and India affected Anushuman Jha’s plan of attending the Canadian première of his directorial debut, Lord Curzon Ki Haveli, at the International South Asian Film Festival (ISAFF) of Vancouver on September 29.

The Rasika Dugal and Arjun Mathur-starrer had its world première at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM), followed by a North American première where it received a standing ovation. The team was hoping to repeat the experience in Vancouver. However, tourist-related travel problems have become a prominent issue in the wake of India’s announcement to temporarily halt visa processing for Canadian nationals due to concerns for their staff’s safety.

Jhawho had booked his tickets to Vancouver from Chicago, has returned to Mumbai now. Talking to mid-day, he says, “It’s unfortunate that none of us are in Canada for ISAFF. I wish art and politics were kept apart, but this is the world we live in. We are excited that our film is the opening night film at ISAFF. I hope the audience enjoys our film about Asians in the West, and the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock sits at the screening.”

$1.5M ancient Buddha statue brazenly stolen from LA gallery recovered, suspect arrested

A $1.5 million Buddha sculpture that was stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery last week has been recovered — and one man has been arrested in connection to the brazen heist, according to police.

The 250-pound bronze statue, which is hundreds of years old and hails from Japan, was discovered in a truck on Saturday, LAPD Lt. Ruiz told KTLA. Justin Livick, 44 was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property. He’s since been released, cops said.

Police said it’s not clear if Livick was the thief who was caught on camera robbing the piece from Barakat Gallery in Beverly Grove or if he had purchased the stolen art.

No additional details have been released, the outlet said.

Security footage from the gallery shows the thief pull up to the gallery in a moving truck around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 18, according to owner Fayez Baraka.

The driver steps out, busts open a driveway gate and enters the gallery, video shows. He then used a dolly to load the 4-foot-tall statue on the truck before driving off. The heist took just 25 minutes.

The 250-pound, four-foot bronze statue dates from Japan’s Edo Period.
The $1.5 million statue was snatched from the Barakat Gallery.

Hundreds of other valuable pieces were skipped over in favor of the Buddha — the only item that was stolen.

Baraka told KTLA that the statue, which he acquired 55 years ago, dates back to Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). It is believed to have been commissioned for the centerpiece of a temple.

The thief was caught on security camera taking the statue.
The statue was the only piece targeted in the heist.

“Because it’s an ancient artifact, there’s nowhere where you can sell this piece,” he told the outlet after the theft. “You can’t go on the market. You can’t take it to a pawn shop and sell it for a few thousand dollars, it’s just not possible. So, it’s very interesting. It’s like a museum heist type thing where, what are you going to do with this object right now? We’re all very curious and really puzzled, to be honest.”

‘When art begins with profit motive…’, Humans of New York founder’s latest dig at Humans of Bombay which makes…

The ongoing ethical battle between Humans of New York and its ripoff entity Humans of Bombay has entered a new phase with Brandon Stanton taking a subtle dig at those ‘making profit of art’.

Humans of New York Founder Brandon Stanton and Humans of Bombay founder Karishma Mehta

In a recent social media post, Humans of New York founder, Brandon Stanton commented on an ongoing ‘court case involving my work, but which thankfully doesn’t involve me.’ Clearly he was referring to the copyright infringement case filed by Humans of Bombay against People of India.

Brandon has in the past shown displeasure at Humans of Bombay making huge profits after using his brand. “I’ve stayed quiet on the appropriation of my work because I think @HumansOfBombay shares important stories, even if they’ve monetized far past anything I’d feel comfortable doing on HONY. But you can’t be suing people for what I’ve forgiven you for,” posted the American blogger.

Today again he posted a long comment on how he doesn’t believe in profiteering from art and art seizes to exit if that happens.

‘For the last thirteen years I haven’t received a penny for a single story told on Humans of New York, despite many millions offered. All my income has come from books of my work, speeches I have given, and Patreon.’ He stated.

The commenting on copyright infringment he went on to add, ‘I cannot provide an informed opinion on the intricacies of copyright law, but I do have an opinion on what it means to be an artist. Beautiful art can make money, there is nothing wrong with that. But when art begins with a profit motive, it ceases to become art. And becomes a product’

Clearly Brandon respects his art and won’t take any step against those using his name but doesn’t want to be identified with profiteers, ‘I welcome anyone who is using the ‘Humans of’ concept to express something true and beautiful about their community. I do not identify with anyone who is using it for the sake of creating a certain lifestyle for themselves.’

Also Read: Humans of Bombay vs Humans of New York: Why HONY founder Brandon Stanton is angry with HOB

Netizens have been quick to showcase their support for Brandon who has allowed several versions of his brand being created across the world. ‘Brandon’s continued principled refusal to turn HoNY into an “influencer” “brand” is admirable and wholesome and inspiring by itself.’, wrote Gaurav Sabnis, Associate Professor ast Stevens Business. He even called out HOB founder Karishma for her hypocrisy, ‘Karishma, who came from money and has made a lot more money, could just show some humility, swallow Brandon’s scolding and move on. It’s not like he has any power in Indian courts..’

Meanwhile Humans of Bombay founder, Karishma Mehta, has thanked Brandon, ‘We are grateful to HONY & Brandon for starting this storytelling movement. The suit is related to the IP in our posts & not about storytelling at all. We tried to address the issue amicably before approaching the Court, as we believe in protecting our team’s hard work.’

It is interesting to note how Humans of Bombay is a heavily monetised website and earned over 6.78 crores of revenue last year’s and 3.2 crores in Profits. Reports on social media suggest they even charge 2-7 lakh per social media post.


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Ice house and art deco cinema among buildings to get £12.2m in lottery grants

A 19th-century thatched ice house that was an important staging post for fish between the sea and the nation’s stomachs is to be transformed into a circus training centre.

The quayside Grade II-listed Great Yarmouth Ice House, built as one of a pair between 1851 and 1892, was a key asset in the town’s once-thriving fishing industry.

It was constructed at the same time as a nearby railway station, allowing freshly caught herrings to be packed in ice and quickly transported to the Billingsgate fish market in London and beyond.

Now the National Lottery Heritage Fund is contributing almost £2m to convert the historic building into the National Arts and Circus Centre, a training and performance space due to open in 2024.

Duo Vita Circus performing outside Great Yarmouth Ice House. Photograph: Paul Marriott/PA

The ice house grant is part of £12.2m in funding to restore and transform historic buildings announced by the heritage fund on Tuesday.

The Strand Arts Centre in Belfast, an art deco jewel, will be restored with the help of a grant of £768,000.

The Strand opened in 1935 with a screening of Bright Eyes, starring Shirley Temple. The picture house had one screen and 1,170 seats.

Its design featured a curved end, like a ship’s prow, and porthole windows influenced by the nearby shipyard Harland & Wolff.

Once one of 40 picture palaces in Belfast in the prewar golden age of cinema, it is the last still in operation.

Cardiff Market will get a grant of more than £2m. Photograph: Jim Monk/Alamy

The grant will help transform the building into a living museum and preserve it for future generations.

Cardiff’s Grade II*-listed Victorian market will get a grant of more than £2m for restoration. It opened in 1891 on the site of the city’s jail and gallows, where the coal miner Dic Penderyn was hanged 60 years earlier for his part in the Merthyr Rising.

The market is now home to more than 60 independent businesses and traders. The restoration plans include repairs to the roof and the market clock, and the creation of a 70-seat eating area close to food stalls.

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Lowestoft town hall in Suffolk has been awarded £3.25m to transform the empty Grade II-listed building into a civic and community centre with a gallery and cafe.

The original council chamber contains three stained glass windows, the largest of which commemorates the Anglo-French alliance against Russia during the Crimean war.

St Conan’s Kirk, Argyll, will receive a development grant. Photograph: Andrew Prins

The grants would help “revitalise and preserve the UK’s remarkable built heritage”, said Eilish McGuinness, the fund’s chief executive.

“We look forward to seeing these fantastic projects improving the condition and understanding of the important heritage they guard, reducing the amount of heritage at risk, and delivering transformational projects for communities across the UK,” she added.

The fund has also given development grants to a number of planned projects, including one at St Conan’s Kirk, a lochside church in Argyll. Considered to be one of the finest church buildings in the UK, its highlights include a Norman doorway, Gothic flying buttresses, a Celtic cross, Arts and Crafts carvings, a Saxon tower and a stone circle.

This week in Mumbai: An immersive art show, a dark comedy on motherhood, a jazz project and more

Method Kalaghoda is presenting an art show filled with sensory experiences. Titled ‘The Effection Experience’, the 15-minute immersive experience by mixed media artist Hansika Mangwani is said to take the participants on a transformative expedition where they rediscover themselves and their environment through a fusion of sensory stimuli. Guided by heart rate sensors, the experience dynamically responds to the rhythms of one’s heart, transforming them into cascading gradients of light and enveloping sound. Incorporating principles of colour psychology and emotional mapping, the show reshapes one’s perception of the mind-body connection.

Where: Method Kalaghoda, 86, Nagindas Master Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort
When: Till October 15, all days except Monday and Tuesday, 11 am to 7 pm

Price: Rs 499

To book: log in at

Koël Purie Rinchet’s play Mummy’s Dead, Long Live Mummy!

After its premiere in Paris earlier this year, actress and producer Koël Purie Rinchet is embarking on a three-city tour with dark comedy ‘Mummy’s Dead, Long Live Mummy!’ As the name suggests, the 90-minute play dramatises the relentless nature of parenting by following the raw, unfiltered, tragically hilarious, and often moving journey of four diverse mothers. Starring Viviane Bossina, Melinda Mayor, Koël Purie Rinchet, and Laura Woody, the 90-minute-long play produced by Purie and Ira Dubey celebrates the very real heartache and struggle of mothers around the globe.

Where: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu

When: Oct 2, 5 pm and 8 pm

Price: Rs 890

To book: log in at

The Gin and Jazz Project

Smoke House Deli is hosting ‘The Gin and Jazz Project’ in collaboration with veteran writer and jazz enthusiast Sunil Sampat. The evening promises soulful jazz melodies and delectable gin concoctions made from their in-house botanicals.

Where: Second floor, Smoke House Deli, Pali Hill

When: September 29, 7.30 pm onwards

To book: call 9152017980

The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation

Feroz Abbas Khan’s The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation returns to The Grand Theatre, NMACC. Conceived, written, and directed by Khan, the musical takes the audience through different eras of our country’s history and culture. Bringing them to life is music by Ajay-Atul, costumes by Manish Malhotra, and choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant, Mayuri Upadhya, Samir, and Arsh Tanna.

Where: The Grand Theatre, NMACC
When: Till October 8, 7.30 pm

Price: Rs 600 to Rs 22,000

To book: log in at

POR Amor A La Jungla

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Bonobo and Don Julio Tequila have come together to present ‘POR Amor A La Jungla’, an immersive jungle chic experience that promises to be wilder than a safari, and groovier than a dancing monkey.

Aiming to take the guests into an alternate universe where urban buildings replace sky-scraping trees, and animals roam the streets, the evening will be set to the beats of Bhaijaan Dance Sound Machine. The lineup would include renowned DJ and producer Amor Satyr from France and Mumbai-based DJ Spacejams.

Where: Second floor, Kenilworth Plaza, Off Linking Rd, Phase II, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050

When: September 29, 6 pm

For entry: call 9619930030

New gallery spaces showcasing Scottish art to open in Edinburgh

A suite of new galleries built to present work by many of Scotland’s most famous artists, including the Glasgow Boys, Phoebe Anna Traquair and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, opens to the public this week.

For the first time, the galleries in Edinburgh will showcase significant pieces of Scottish art held by National Galleries Scotland in a single collection, after a much-delayed construction project that involved digging out new space beside the Mound in the city centre.

The works encompass delicate embroideries by Traquair, the pioneering photography of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson and landscapes of Victorian Edinburgh, as well as Sir Edwin Landseer’s totemic portrait of a red stag, The Monarch of the Glen.

Sir John Leighton, the director general of National Galleries Scotland, said the new spaces were intended to allow the work to “pop off the walls” and to show the Scottish collections with “pride and ambition”.

Its curators have brought in works of art that have been spread across the National Galleries’ various collections, held in storage and unseen for decades, or hung in other institutions, integrating them for the first time into a coherent collection.

The new galleries replace a 1970s-era network of basement rooms. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Those works include the largest piece on display, a sombre painting by Robert Scott Lauder called Christ Teacheth Humility, completed in 1847 for a competition to make work for the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, which were being rebuilt after the fire of 1834.

Too large to be shown in the previous Scottish rooms, its canvas had been taken out and rolled up, before being lent to a Catholic care home. The national gallery’s framers found and restored its original gilt frame, which measures 2.55 by 3.7 metres (8.4ft by 12.1ft), for its display in the new spaces.

Patricia Allerston, the chief curator for the new galleries, which cover work from 1800 to 1945, said they had also focused deliberately on finding and presenting art by women. “As we go back in time, that is more challenging,” she said.

Along with a bay dedicated to Traquair, other bays are devoted to the Glasgow Girls including Flora Macdonald Reid, with work by the sisters Frances and Margaret Macdonald, the latter a watercolourist who married the designer and painter Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Phoebe Anna Traquair’s embroidery The Progress of a Soul (1895-1902). Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Henry Raeburn’s famous pre-1800 painting of the Reverend Walker skating on Duddingston Loch remains in the main gallery upstairs.

In addition, the collection subtly explores significant themes in Scotland’s political history, including pieces not previously put on permanent display.

One small oil by William McTaggart from 1895 features a ship taking Highlanders to the US after their eviction in the clearances, and is paired with a larger painting by McTaggart on the arrival of the Celtic Christian saint Columba on Iona. Allerston noted that Victorian paintings on the clearances were rare.

A painting by Robert Herdman, held in an anteroom that links the new Scottish galleries in the basement to the main ground-floor galleries, depicts the death of a Covenanter, wounded during a violent Presbyterian revolt in the 1680s.

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The most famous painting in the new galleries, Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen, is the centrepiece in a room devoted to exaggerated, glamorised landscapes from the Highlands – a form that dominated Victorian perceptions of Scotland.

The Scottish galleries project, announced in 2016, was originally expected to cost £16.8m but was hit by a number of setbacks. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

The Scottish galleries, which will open to the public on 30 September, mark the completion of a long-running scheme to expand and integrate two neoclassical Greek revival buildings on the Mound – the National Gallery of Scotland and the neighbouring Royal Scottish Academy – into a single complex now known as the National.

The Scottish galleries element of the project was announced in 2016, scheduled to open in 2019 and originally priced at £16.8m. The first design, to replace a 1970s-era network of basement rooms by building out over three Victorian railway tunnels leading from Waverley station, was too risky and quickly abandoned.

The scaled-back project was then hit by other challenges: undocumented asbestos, damp and water ingress and layers of dense concrete; the first contractors, Interserve, collapsed; then Covid struck. The galleries eventually cost £38.6m, underpinned by £15.25m from the Scottish government.

Leighton, who is to retire soon after 17 years as director general, said he was delighted the new galleries had been opened, featuring full-length windows looking at the Scott Monument and Calton Hill, and replacing the dingy and badly lit spaces that had previously been there.

“Obviously, we’re sorry it has taken so long,” he said, but added: “Having overcome the obstacles, which at the time were challenging because you’re in a very challenging funding environment, in a way I think it feels almost sweeter for being hard won.”

Moment thief busted into LA art gallery to steal 250-pound ancient Japanese Buddha sculpture worth $1.5MILLION

Moment thief busted into LA art gallery to steal 250-pound ancient Japanese Buddha sculpture worth $1.5MILLION

Ananya Panday, Suhana Khan, Shanaya Kapoor ‘go crazy’ at NMACC art exhibition, Chunky Panday and Sanjay Kapoor join too

Childhood friends and actors Ananya Panday, Suhana Khan, and Shanaya Kapoor had a girls’ day out at an art exhibition at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in Mumbai. They were joined by actors Chunky Panday and Sanjay Kapoor. (Also Read: Ananya Panday blushes as paparazzi spot her with rumoured boyfriend Aditya Roy Kapur in Mumbai. Watch)

Shanaya Kapoor, Ananya Panday, and Suhana Khan at NMACC

Ananya, Shanaya, Suhana at NMACC

Ananya took to Instagram on Sunday and shared a bunch of pictures from a colourful, eccentric art exhibition at NMACC. In the first picture, she’s seen clicking a selfie with Suhana and Shanaya. They’re all twinning in black – while Suhana is donning a gown, Ananya is seen in an all-black avatar with a black sleeveless top and black denim along with a brown belt. Shanaya pairs her black top with distressed blue denim pants.

Ananya is seen clicking selfies with Shanaya and with herself in other pictures of the carousel. She wrote in the caption, “Expect the unexpected (rainbow emoji) @nmacc.india (hearts in the eyes emojis).”

Shanaya also posted some more selfies on her Instagram. One of them was a selfie video with her and Ananya cat-walking near an art installation. Shanaya also posed with her father Sanjay in one of the pics she posted. She wrote in the caption, “Go crazy with your art” (hearts in the eyes emoji) best experience at @nmacc.india (red heart emoji) with the best people.” Ananya’s mother Bhavana Pandey commented red heart emojis on Shanaya’s post.

Sanjay, Chunky in a hilarious photo

Being the true sports they are, Chunky and Sanjay posed with smiles next to a sign that read, “Famous for no reason.” They even posted solo pictures with that sign on their respective Instagram handles. Shanaya and Maheep Kapoor, Sanjay’s wife, commented emojis on his post. He wrote in the caption, “Fun evening @nmacc.india , #spectacularplace.”

Chunky posted more pictures and selfies on his Instagram, along with a picture of the three girls at a spaghetti-themed art installation. He wrote in the caption, “Night at the Museum (hearts in eyes emoji) @nmacc.india,” referring to Ben Stiller’s popular fantasy comedy franchise.

Chunky was last seen in Farhad Samji’s Disney+ Hotstar comedy series Pop Kaun?. Sanjay appeared in an episode of Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s Prime Video India show Made in Heaven Season 2. Ananya recently delivered a box-office hit in Raaj Shaandilyaa’s comedy Dream Girl 2, also starring Ayushmann Khurrana.

Suhana and Shanaya will soon make their acting debuts with Zoya’s Netflix India period campus caper The Archies and Mohanlal-starrer pan-India film Vrushabha.

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Netflix documentary ‘Made You Look’ to be turned into a book: readers to learn the secrets of the art scandal

Netflix art scandal documentary ‘Made You Look’ is being converted into an all-reveal book by the series director Barry Avrich.

“The book is a blend of ‘Succession,’ ‘Billions’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ the only difference is that everything is true,” said Barry.

The book will be published in 2025 by the Post Hill Press.

“The book is a blend of ‘Succession,’ ‘Billions’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ the only difference is that everything is true,” said Barry.

“Audiences crave crime stories. Readers will be engrossed by all the twists and turns of one of the most bizarre and thrilling frauds the world has ever come across,” he added.

It dives deeper into new evidence and inside stories on how a peculiar art dealer, a master forger and two con artists managed to fool the art world for more than a decade.

The frauds actually forged works by Robert Motherwell, Pollock, Rothko and others and hoaxed billionaire collectors, museums and even the media.

Along with the book a feature film on the same is in development, reported Page Six.

‘Made You Look’- The Documentary

Directed by Barry Avrich, ‘Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art’ is a 2020 American crime documentary about the largest art fraud in American history set in the art world of New York.

It is based on the infamous Knoedler Gallery art scandal. The gallery in New York sold about $80 million in fake paintings apparently made by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and others.

The works were actually made in a Queens garage by a master forger and a math professor.

The scandal was finally uncovered by the FBI and the gallery owned by Michael Hammer was closed in 2011.

The documentary when released and still loved by viewers alike.

“Always love a good art documentary with a sprinkle of crime 😋 it’s crazy to realize how much these art galleries make for selling artworks in contrast to the fact that the artists themselves usually make close to nothing,” wrote a user on X (Formerly Twitter)

“Made You Look (2020) is a very good #documentary on fake art. #Netflix #movie 5/5 stars,” wrote another.

In A Daring Heist, Ancient Buddha Statue Worth Rs 12.5 Crore Stolen From US Art Gallery

The entire operation took less than 25 minutes.

A rare, centuries-old Japanese bronze Buddha statue worth $1.5 million (about Rs 12.5 crore) was stolen from an art gallery in Los Angeles last week, the New York Post reported. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the 250-pound (114 kg) bronze sculpture was stolen on September 18 from the Barakat Gallery in Beverly Grove around 3:45 a.m.

Notably, the daring heist was also caught on CCTV. The surveillance footage shows the suspect allegedly breaking into the entrance through a driveway gate and using a dolly to move the statue onto a truck. The entire robbery lasted about 25 minutes. Authorities were shocked that a lone thief managed to steal the statue despite its weight.

The rare artifact is a seated Buddha with a halo, roughly 4 feet tall, created during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). It was believed to have been commissioned for the centerpiece of a temple.

”This monumental bronze sculpture likely once dominated the interior of a temple. Judging from the inscription, it is likely that this work was once placed in the Yudo-no-San Temple. We can imagine tired pilgrims struggling to climb the mountain, only to arrive at the top and have their energy revitalized by this monumental sculpture. In the Vajra mudra, the index finger of the left hand is clasped by the five fingers of the right; this is also known as the “six elements mudra,” or the “fist of wisdom” mudra, for it symbolizes the unity of the five worldly elements (earth, water, fire, air, and metal) with spiritual consciousness,” reads the statue’s description on the gallery’s website. 

”I prize it so much. I had it in the backyard of my home and when I moved into this gallery, I put it in the backyard of the gallery for everybody to admire and enjoy,” Fayez Barakat, the gallery owner, told KTLA.

Mr. Barakat added that he believes the theft was premeditated, as the sculpture features prominently in the gallery’s outdoor space.

”I don’t think there’s another like it on the market anywhere. It’s four feet tall, it’s hollow cast bronze and it’s a stunning piece. It’s really aesthetically arresting and it’s shocking to see something like this go missing,” Paul Henderson, the gallery’s director, told the New York Post, adding that it will be difficult for the thief to sell the piece.

Police are investigating the case and canvassing the area for additional security camera footage.

The Barakat Gallery, which also has locations in London, Seoul, and Hong Kong, opened its Los Angeles location in 2017. 

Behind the Art: Exploring the historical significance of John Singleton Copley’s ‘The Passing of Major Peirson’

In 1783, John Singleton Copley completed a powerful painting titled “The Passing of Major Peirson on 6th January 1781.” This renowned artwork captures a significant event during the January 1781 invasion of Jersey by American-allied French soldiers, and the heroic defence led by the young Major Francis Peirson. The battle unfolds with intricate detail, depicting the streets of Jersey as the backdrop, while women and children seek safety on the city’s outskirts. What is the historical significance and emotional impact of this dramatic masterpiece?

During the night of January 5-6, 1781, a small contingent of French legionnaires launched a surprise attack on St. Helier, the capital of Jersey, a Channel Island controlled by the British since 1066. The French captured Colonel Moses Corbet, the Governor, and forced him to surrender. However, contrary to Corbet’s orders to stand down, Peirson chose to defend the British possession of the island. He led his troops to the market square of St. Helier to engage in battle. Tragically, he was shot and fatally wounded “in the moment of victory, after the French had given way,” as reported in the Glasgow Mercury on January 11, 1781.

The painting portrays Peirson as a hero and celebrates the British victory, embodied by the raised Union Jack. During this time, British colonial forces were on the verge of losing their American colonies in the American War of Independence. Despite being a minor altercation, this victory served to boost confidence in the British Empire. Copley was commissioned by John Boydell, an engraver and printseller, to capitalise on this moment. The artwork served a propagandistic purpose, evidenced by the portrayal of the Black soldier retaliating for the British major’s death, even though there is no historical evidence to support this. 

Copley as an artist liked to pay attention to detail and chose to depict the setting of St. Helier, facing the Royal Square along the present-day Peirson Place, with the statue of George II in the background. The artist’s intention to create lifelike portraits of models for his works is evident in his depiction of figures like Adjutant Harrison, who cradles the fallen Major, and Clement Hemery, standing at Peirson’s feet in the blue uniform of his artillery company. Peirson and other figures in the painting likely drew inspiration from models, existing portraits, and sculptures. In the foreground on the right, a mother attempts to escape the battlefield with her baby and a child. The civilians fleeing towards the right side of the painting are modelled after Copley’s wife, family nurse, and children.

A golden statue is also visible under the flag. On the left side of this tableau, a uniformed Black man appears to be firing back at the French forces who had just felled Peirson. Amidst a crowd of British soldiers dressed in red, this man stands out with a navy waistcoat, silver epaulettes, and a distinct hat adorned with various coloured ostrich feathers.

The identity of the Black man in the painting has been a subject of speculation for decades. Some historians propose that he might have been modelled after one of two Black servants in Captain James Christie’s employ, Abraham Allec and Isaac Burton. Regardless, it remains uncertain as to why this particular portrayal was chosen by the artist. Many of Copley’s contemporaries were either slave owners or had Black servants in their British households. Even Copley’s own family in Boston, Massachusetts, had an enslaved African child in their home.

In fact, the elegant attire of the Black soldier, including the extravagant ostrich feathers in his hat, deviates from the remote context of the American War. These elements contribute to the eroticisation of Black figures, which was a common motif in the art of the time. This portrayal aligns with the pro-Empire propaganda of the era, symbolising the loyalty of British colonies and people subjected to British exploitation. The depiction of the Black soldier in an active role was unusual, departing from the passive representations often seen in European art.

Some art historians claim that Copley’s portrayal hints at a progression towards recognising Black freedom, however, there is insufficient evidence to link him to any abolitionist cause. Regardless of any potential antislavery sentiment, Copley’s lack of consideration for the individuality of the Black man reflects the overall tendency to depict Black subjects with undifferentiated, symbolic attributes. According to critics, this painting perpetuates stereotypical and dehumanising portrayals of Black people and echoes the historical role of Black men within the British army as expendable assets in the defence of British colonies.

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Despite Major Peirson’s early demise in the Battle, the artwork portrays him as falling heroically during the final charge, adding more dimension to his role and destiny. Peirson ascended to the status of a national hero, and the painting garnered significant attention during its initial exhibition, commanding an admission fee of one shilling. From 1989 to 2010, a reproduction of this artwork was featured on the Jersey 10-pound note, and before that, on the 1-pound note. However, it was not just this artwork that garnered Copley his fame. Copley held the distinguished title of being the premier and most impactful artist in colonial America, contributing around 350 remarkable pieces of artwork. His legacy is commemorated through significant landmarks like Boston’s Copley Square and Copley Plaza, in addition to places such as Copley Township in Summit County, Ohio, and the Copley Crater on Mercury. In recognition of his artistic contributions, the U.S. Postal Service honoured John Singleton Copley with a 5-cent stamp in 1965, marking the 150th anniversary of his passing.

Next up in Behind the Art: From Chaos to Victory: The Battle of Camperdown’s Enduring Impac

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Ancient Buddha statue worth $1.5 million stolen from Los Angeles art gallery

A centuries-old Japanese Buddha statue worth $1.5 million was stolen from a Los Angeles art gallery last week — and the heist was caught on camera.

The 250-pound bronze sculpture was jacked from the Barakat Gallery in Beverly Grove around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 18, LAPD said.

“I prize it so much,” Fayez Barakat, the gallery owner, told KTLA.

“I had it in the backyard of my home and when I moved into this gallery, I put it in the backyard of the gallery for everybody to admire and enjoy.”

Security footage shows the thief pulling up to the gallery in a moving truck, Barakat said. The driver steps out, busts open a driveway gate and enters the gallery, video shows. He then used a dolly to load the statue on the truck before driving off.

The theft of the ancient statue took place in the dead of night.
Youtube/KTLA 5

The entire robbery lasted about 25 minutes, the gallery owner said.

The statue dates back to Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867), Barakat said. It is believed to have been commissioned for the centerpiece of a temple.

Barakat said he acquired the one-of-a-kind artifact more than 55 years ago.

The thief is seen using a dolly to load the statue on the truck before driving off.
Youtube/KTLA 5

“We have 200 objects back there, but this is our prize piece,” Paul Henderson, the gallery’s director, said.

“I don’t think there’s another like it on the market anywhere. It’s four feet tall, it’s hollow cast bronze and it’s a stunning piece. It’s really aesthetically arresting and it’s shocking to see something like this go missing.”

Barakat said he believes the theft was premeditated, as the sculpture features prominently in the gallery’s outdoor space.

The art gallery, Fayez Barakat, owner believes the Buddha statue was specifically targeted.
Youtube/KTLA 5

Hundreds of other valuable pieces were skipped over in favor of the Buddha — the only item that was stolen.

It will be difficult for the thief to sell the piece, Henderson said.

“Because it’s an ancient artifact, there’s nowhere where you can sell this piece,” he told the outlet. “You can’t go on the market. You can’t take it to a pawn shop and sell it for a few thousand dollars, it’s just not possible. So, it’s very interesting. It’s like a museum heist type thing where, what are you going to do with this object right now? We’re all very curious and really puzzled, to be honest.”

Barakat is hoping law enforcement can recover the statue before something happens to it.

“I hope that the person who stole it is not stealing it for the weight of bronze because it’s a historical item,” Barakat said. “I’m heartbroken. Whoever stole it, maybe that person understood the value. Probably they commissioned somebody, a thief of some kind, to just go ahead and steal it.”

No arrests have been made, according to LAPD. Police said they are canvassing the area for additional security camera footage.