Historical fiction novel centred around an Irish artist Francis Danby. His painting of the apocalypse that was displayed in London in 1828 caused huge scandal, fuelling the debate on slavery in the British Empire. Following four main characters, including his wife and mistress, it charts the huge influence that the artist and his painting had on others. More
The year is 1828, and the city of London is shaken by a sensational scandal. Everybody is talking about it. Emotions are running high; outrage from some, passionate support from others. There are women fainting, newspaper articles reporting on it, public debates discussing it.
The cause of it all was one painting: ‘The Opening of the Sixth Seal’ by the Irish artist Francis Danby. It was being displayed at the Royal Academy and was so popular that it had to be hung in a separate room because of the crowds queuing to see it. Everyone wanted a glance of this infamous painting.
The focus of the furore was the minute figure of a slave in the vast painting. It ignited fire into the issue of anti-slavery, which was dividing London society. It brought the debate on slavery in the British Empire to the forefront of social consciousness.
This work of historical fiction takes these real events and follows four people whose lives become caught up in the drama caused by Francis Danby and his painting. We witness the artist and the events through the very different perspectives of these characters.
There is HANNAH: the illiterate country maid who becomes Francis’ wife and endures a tumultuous relationship with her husband.
There is ELLEN: the educated mistress of Francis, whose love for him makes her agree to live with his family as governess to his children.