This bronze statue depicting a crouched black man breaking free from bondage is the work of Jamaica’s foremost sculptor, Edna Manley (1900-87), a member of the Order of Merit of Jamaica, and wife of Norman Manley (1893-1969), the first and only premier. Often considered controversial, the original sculpture was created in 1935, and the sculptor, then in London, was moved to learn that individuals were pitching in whatever they could afford so that the sculpture could be the first in a national art collection. It was first exhibited in 1937 and bought by the Institute of Jamaica in 1974. The statue was enlarged in 1977 as a monument to the workers of Jamaica and the Worker’s Movement, established in 1938. At that point Edna Manley was commissioned to recreate the original statue in bronze, at a scale three to four times bigger than the first one. When this version was shipped to New York to be bronzed, the earlier statue was destroyed in a warehouse fire. In 1982 Edna Manley produced a third version, closer in size to the original one, and in 1991 the third version was enlarged posthumously.
This statue, which faces the sea, is therefore a replica, the original being in the National Gallery of Jamaica.
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