by Michele Gordigiani
oil on canvas, 1858
28 1/2 in. x 23 1/8 in. (724 mm x 587 mm)
Given by Florence Barclay, 1921
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Sitterback to top
- Robert Browning (1812-1889), Poet; husband of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sitter in 51 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Although he is not much read today, Browning is regarded as one of the greatest Victorian poets. This portrait of him was commissioned by an American admirer, Sophia Eckley, when Browning and his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning were living in Florence. Mrs Eckley was determined that it would be the best available likeness of him and wrote on the stretcher that Browning described it as an 'Incomparable Portrait by far the best ever taken'. It is certainly suggestive of his intense and cerebral character; but according to W.M. Rossetti, writing after Browning's death, 'The face in this portrait is certainly a highly intellectual one; but I think it is treated with too much morbidezza, so as to lack some of that extreme keenness, which characterized Browning.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 38
- Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 72
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 130
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 130
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 83
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 144