The Brontë Sisters (Anne Brontë; Emily Brontë; Charlotte Brontë)

1 portrait of Anne Brontë

The Brontë Sisters (Anne Brontë; Emily Brontë; Charlotte Brontë), by Patrick Branwell Brontë, circa 1834 - NPG 1725 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

The Brontë Sisters (Anne Brontë; Emily Brontë; Charlotte Brontë)

by Patrick Branwell Brontë
oil on canvas, circa 1834
35 1/2 in. x 29 3/8 in. (902 mm x 746 mm)
Purchased, 1914
Primary Collection
NPG 1725


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This is the only surviving group portrait of the three famous novelist sisters - from left to right: Anne, Emily and Charlotte Brontë. The portrait was known from a description of it by the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell who saw it in 1853. It was thought to have been lost until it was discovered folded up on top of a cupboard by the second wife of Charlotte Brontë's husband, the Reverend A.B. Nicholls, in 1914. In the centre of the group a male figure, previously concealed by a painted pillar, can now be discerned; it is almost certainly a self-portrait of the artist, their brother Branwell Brontë.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG x47301: Vita Sackville-West (includes the portrait)

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Events of 1834back to top

Current affairs

Sir Robert Peel, Tory, replaces Whig Lord Melbourne as Prime Minister, promising measured reform in a shift from reactionary 'Tory' to more measured 'Conservative' politics (he had voted for the 1832 Reform Act). Trial of Tolpuddle Martyrs, six labourers transported to Australia after trying to raise funds for workers in need by forming a Friendly Society.

Art and science

Charles Babbage's invents the Analytic Machine. Considered to be the forerunner to the modern computer, the machine was able to make automatic mathematical calculations. Edward Bulwer-Lytton publishes his hugely popular, but now largely neglected, novel Last Days of Pompeii, set in the Italian city at the time of Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79AD.

International

Dom Miguel I, King of Portugal, is defeated by his brother Pedro IV, in the Portuguese civil war. Slavery is abolished in the British dominions, although slaves still working are indentured to their former owners in an 'apprenticeship' system; the philanthropist Joseph Sturge was a prominent critic of the policy, which was abolished in 1838. Whilst slave owners received compensation, slaves received nothing.

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29 March 2016, 11:24

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