5 of 13 portraits of George Meredith
Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London
by Theodore Spicer-Simson
bronze medallion, 1908
4 1/2 in. (114 mm) diameter
Purchased through Roger Fry, 1910
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This portraitback to top
This medal, the first of many by Theodore Spicer-Simpson to enter the Gallery's collection, was purchased from him for 5 guineas in 1910 with encouragement from Roger Fry, then Editor of the Burlington Magazine. Meredith was reluctant to provide sittings for this medallion and agreed only after seeing a sketch for the design, with the assurance that it would not be produced in large numbers. The result is this delicate profile in shallow relief. Spicer-Simson is credited for continuing the tradition of cast medal-making into the twentieth century. He exploits this technique here, in order to depict individual facial hairs and evoke the very texture of the sitter's skin. He recalled the origins of this medal in his reminiscences, A Collector of Characters (posthumously published, 1962): 'Christmastime brought us to England in 1908. While there the Society of Authors requested me to do the portrait of George Meredith. He refused to sit.… I then asked Meredith's daughter, Mrs Sturgis. She said there might be only one way of succeeding, which would be to 'spring it on Father.' So she invited me to lunch at her home near Box Hill and after the meal we drove over in a carriage and pair.… Then Mrs Sturgis told her father he should sit for me. I said, 'Mr Meredith, I have prepared something. If you do not like it, I will destroy it before your eyes. Otherwise I hope you will sit.' After looking at the sketch and learning that it would not be produced by the hundreds, he consented. We parted good friends.'
Linked publicationsback to top
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 427
Events of 1908back to top
Current affairsHenry Asquith replaces Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, with David Lloyd George taking control of the Exchequer. Asquith and Lloyd George embark on a bold programme of social reform, laying the foundations of the Welfare State, introducing government pensions this year and later a system of National Insurance.
The first aeroplane for the British army is built by the American, Samuel Cody.
Art and scienceE.M. Forster's novel A Room with a View is published, following the experiences of a young woman, Lucy Honeydrew, in the repressed culture of Edwardian England.
The French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first uses the term 'cubism' to refer to a landscape painting by Georges Braque.
InternationalKing Carlos of Portugal and his heir, Prince Luis Filipe, are killed by assassins from the Republican trying to provoke a revolution. Carlos I, unpopular because of his extravagant lifestyle and extramarital affairs, was succeeded by his younger son, Manuel, the last monarch of the Braganza dynasty.
Following the death of the Guangxu Emperor in China, his two year old nephew replaces him, becoming the the last Manchu emperor of China.