William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

1 portrait on display in Room 20 at the National Portrait Gallery

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, circa 1805 - NPG 5185 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

by Sir Thomas Lawrence
oil on canvas, circa 1805
29 7/8 in. x 24 7/8 in. (759 mm x 632 mm)
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1978
Primary Collection
NPG 5185


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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Portrait painter, collector and President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 684 portraits, Sitter in 25 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Lawrence's dashing portrait was painted at the time when Melbourne, then William Lamb, married the poet Lady Caroline Lamb (1805). Their marriage proved unhappy, being marred by her notorious affair with Lord Byron. They separated legally in 1825. Two years later Canning appointed him Chief Secretary for Ireland. In this post Melbourne was responsible for public safety during the widespread 'Swing Riots' (1830) when agricultural labourers revolted against low pay, the use of new farm machinery and the introduction of cheap Irish labour.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D15782: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (source portrait)
  • NPG D20159: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (source portrait)
  • NPG D21200: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (source portrait)
  • NPG D5673: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (source portrait)
  • NPG D38361: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1805back to top

Current affairs

Nelson's state funeral is held at St Paul's. An occasion for an outpouring of national grief and patriotism, the grand ceremony built on the cult of Nelson which had emerged in the years before his death.

Art and science

Mary Tighe publishes Pysche or the Legend of Love, a romantic allegory in the fashionable medieval revival style, admired by both Keats and Shelley. The 'poems of Ossian' are officially declared a fake and a great literary scandal ends as Scottish poet James Macpherson is exposed as the forger of the third century bard's epic works.

International

Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon's ultimate plan to invade England from Boulogne with 100,000 men is thwarted by superior British naval power. Nelson dies in the closing moments of battle having been wounded by a French sniper, but survives long enough to learn that a decisive victory has been won.

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