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New portrait of Queen Victoria’s African goddaughter unveiled

Painting of Sarah Forbes Bonetta part of English Heritage project to highlight overlooked black figures

Her birth name, historians believe, was Aina but in the high society of 19th-century England she was Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an enslaved little girl from what is now the west African country of Benin who became Queen Victoria’s goddaughter.

The remarkable life of Bonetta is being highlighted by curators at English Heritage who, on Wednesday, will unveil a new portrait of her by the artist Hannah Uzor – part of a project to commission and display paintings of black figures whose stories have previously been overlooked.

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