Why was cotton so important in north west England?

Mrs Rosa Samuel and her three daughters

Abraham Solomon (1824-1862), 1845
Pencil, black and white chalk on paper

Object number D.1977.1
Given by Margaret Langdon, 1977

See this object at The Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Mrs Rosa Samuel and her three daughters

This family portrait belies the dark history of slavery that made the Samuel family's wealth. Rosa Samuel, the matriarch of the family, was born in 1809 and later married her cousin, Ralph Henry Samuel, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Liverpool.

RH Samuel was a textile merchant who, with his family, also ran a successful cotton plantation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The family made regular visits to their Brazilian plantation, unlike many plantation owners who left their holdings entirely in the hands of often brutal overseers. Samuel eventually freed his enslaved workers in 1834, some 50 years before Brazilian emancipation. This rather crude portrait shows a wealthy bourgeois family at ease with their place in the world.

This information was provided by curators from The Whitworth Art Gallery.