George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen

1 portrait of George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen

George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, by John Partridge, circa 1847 - NPG 750 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

George Hamilton Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen

by John Partridge
oil on canvas, circa 1847
45 1/2 in. x 57 in. (1156 mm x 1448 mm)
Given by Henry Willett, 1886
Primary Collection
NPG 750

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  • John Partridge (1789-1872), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 41 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Like Partridge's portraits of Melbourne, Macaulay and Palmerston, this portrait is closely related to Partridge's group portrait The Fine Arts Commissioners and was presumably painted as a finished study for it. Aberdeen, a politician and former Foreign Secretary, is shown with a sketch of the Acropolis in his hands, a Greek vase on the table and a model of the Parthenon behind, expressions of his antiquarian interests. He was president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1812 to 1846 and the author of a book on Greek architecture.

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Events of 1847back to top

Current affairs

The 10 Hours Factory Act passed, regulating working hours for women and children under the age of eighteen to effectively a maximum of ten hours a day. The Communist League is founded in London, attended by Friedrich Engels. The League draws up a set of rules and aims, including overthrowing the bourgeoisie and empowering the Proleteriat, and ending class division, forming the basis of Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto (1848).

Art and science

A good year for novels: Emily Bronte's passionate, rebellious and gothic Wuthering Heightsis published, followed shortly by her sister Charlotte's 'Jane Eyre, a story of a governess's struggle for liberty from social and gender constrictions. Drawing on a similar vein of revolution and rebellious women, William Thackeray's satirical novel Vanity Fair is serialised.


The Don Pacifico affair sparks an international incident, when the Jewish trader's business was burned in an anti-semitic attack in Athens. When the Greek government refused to compensate him, Gibraltar-born Pacifico appealed to the British government. Foreign Minister Palmerston sent a squadron into the Aegean in 1850 to seize goods of the equivalent value, leading to strained relations with Turkey and Russia, and heated debates in Parliament.

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