Painting Our Past: English Heritage

James Chappell by Glory Samjolly, at Kirby Hall. Painting Our Past: English Heritage

"James Chappell", oil on board, c.2021, Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire| Painting Our Past: English Heritage

English Heritage commissioned a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history. I was one of the six artists, depicting a free black man of the 17th century, James Chappell. 

I was free to interpret how and when Chappell would’ve been painted. I could have painted him as a servant, but there was not enough information to determine the kind of role he had as a servant, except he was favoured a great deal, and became a legend for saving Sir Christopher Hatton from repercussions of a lightning explosion. I decided to paint him in the latter years of his life, with a more stoic and integral stance, a kind of man who would look back at his life and be proud.