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William Wilberforce

3 of 32 portraits of William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1828 - NPG 3 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Wilberforce

by Sir Thomas Lawrence
oil on canvas, 1828
38 in. x 43 in. (965 mm x 1092 mm)
Given by executors of Sir Robert Harry Inglis, 2nd Bt, 1857
Primary Collection

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Sitterback to top

  • William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Philanthropist and reformer. Sitter associated with 32 portraits.

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

The belief that heroes could inspire us led to the foundation of the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. Among the first portraits acquired was this painting of William Wilberforce the man who, between 1787 and 1833, led Britain's campaign to abolish slavery. By conjuring up the life-like presence of a
great man, this portrait characterises what the Gallery hoped portraits could do for the country.

Lawrence's unfinished portrait was said to capture 'the intellectual power and winning sweetness of the veteran statesman'.

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