Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) ('Mrs Siddons with the Emblems of Tragedy')

1 portrait

Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) ('Mrs Siddons with the Emblems of Tragedy'), by Sir William Beechey, 1793 - NPG 5159 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) ('Mrs Siddons with the Emblems of Tragedy')

by Sir William Beechey
oil on canvas, 1793
96 1/2 in. x 60 1/2 in. (2456 mm x 1537 mm)
Given by Dr D.M. McDonald, 1977
Primary Collection
NPG 5159

Click on the links below to find out more:

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 250 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Sarah Siddons was the greatest actress of her era. Born into a famous theatrical family, the Kembles, in 1773 she married the actor William Siddons against her parents' wishes. Although she had acted from an early age her first major success upon the stage came in 1782 with her portrayal of Isabella in David Garrick's Fatal Marriage. She went on to play a succession of leading roles in classic and contemporary drama. Excelling at Shakespeare, her most famous role was that of Lady Macbeth. Her skills as a tragedian are celebrated in this portrait by Beechey in which Siddons, holding a tragic mask and a dagger, is shown with a monument to Shakespeare. A comic mask resting almost hidden on the top of the monument suggests that her talents also extended to comic acting.

Linked publicationsback to top

Tell us moreback to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, something missing, or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have any information to share please complete the form below

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your nameclose

If you tick permission to publish your name will appear above your contribution on our website.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.