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Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

3 of 5 portraits on display in Room 25 at the National Portrait Gallery

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, by Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt, 1881 - NPG 3241 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

by Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt
oil on canvas, 1881
50 1/4 in. x 36 5/8 in. (1276 mm x 931 mm)
Given by William Henry Smith, 3rd Viscount Hambleden, 1945
Primary Collection
NPG 3241

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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt (1829-1896), Painter and President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 39 portraits, Sitter associated with 72 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait of the great Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is the quintessence of Victorian portraiture: concentrating on the essentials of facial expression, dignifying the sitter and indicating his contribution to politics and national life. Originally Lord Ronald Gower had wanted Disraeli to sit to Millais, so that the portrait could be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. In 1881, Millais wrote to Disraeli pleading, 'I know that sitting to an Artist is attended with great inconvenience to Every public man, but I do hope you will allow me to make a portrait of your Lordship.' Disraeli replied, 'I am a very bad sitter, but will not easily forego my chance of being known to posterity by your illustrious pencil.' Millais was prevented from receiving more than three sittings, however, by Disraeli's fatal illness. Nevertheless, the portrait was finished and, at the request of the Queen, sent in late to the Royal Academy where it was displayed on a special screen.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 925: Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (source portrait)
  • NPG D21543: Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top