Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay

1 portrait on display in Room 24 at the National Portrait Gallery

Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay, by Edward Matthew Ward, 1853 - NPG 4882 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay

by Edward Matthew Ward
oil on canvas, 1853
25 in. x 30 in. (635 mm x 762 mm)
Purchased, 1972
Primary Collection
NPG 4882


Click on the links below to find out more:

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Edward Matthew Ward (1816-1879), History painter. Artist associated with 10 portraits, Sitter in 15 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Macauley is best known for his History of England and the narrative poem 'Lays of Ancient Rome', but he had come to writing after an active political career during which he had served as Secretary for War. This portrait, which shows him at home in Albany, central London, surrounded by his books and papers, is an evocative scene of the life of a scholar in mid-Victorian England. Macauley however was dissatisfied with it, complaining not only that he had been poisoned by the smell of paint, but also that the resulting portrait was like a daguerreotype in its minuteness of detail. It is one of a series of at least seven paintings of writers in their studies, which included Thackeray and Dickens, executed by Ward in the 1850s.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Audio Guide
  • Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 12
  • Bayly, Christopher, The Raj: India and the British 1600-1947, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 19 October 1990 - 17 March 1991), p. 219
  • Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 12
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 127
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 397
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 171