2 of 23 portraits of William Wordsworth
by Benjamin Robert Haydon
plaster cast of life-mask, 1815
9 1/2 in. (241 mm) high
Given by Sir George Buckston Browne, 1924
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Artistback to top
- Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846), History painter and diarist. Artist associated with 34 portraits, Sitter in 10 portraits.
This portraitback to top
A cast of the mask taken for Haydon on 12 June 1815, as he described in his diary: 'I had a cast made yesterday of Wordsworth's face. He bore it like a philosopher. Scott (John Scott, editor of The Champion) was to meet him at Breakfast. Just as he came in the Plaister was covered over. Wordsworth was sitting in the other room in my dressing gown, with his hands folded, sedate, steady, & solemn. I stepped out to Scott & told him as a curiosity to take a peep, that he might say the first sight he ever had of so great a poet was such a singular one as this. I opened the door slowly, & there he sat innocent & unconscious of our plot against his dignity, unable to see or to speak, with all the mysterious silence of a spirit. When he was relieved he came into breakfast with his usual cheerfulness and delighted & awed us by his illustrations & bursts of inspiration.'
Linked publicationsback to top
Events of 1815back to top
Current affairsJohn and James Leigh Hunt are released from prison after a two year sentence for slandering the Prince of Wales in their outspoken, radical periodical the Examiner.
Corn Laws are introduced to protect against the collapse in prices which would inevitably follow peace with France, prompting riots in London.
Art and scienceHumphry Davy invents the miners' safety lamp though its reception is clouded by William Clanny and George Stephenson who present rival models in the same year.
British Institution arranges first in innovative series of Old Master exhibitions
provoking virulent attack on its patrons for neglecting contemporary art.
InternationalNapoleon returns to France from exile in Elba and resumes power until his abdication on 22 June; a period known as the 'Hundred Days'.
Battle of Waterloo concludes the Anglo-French struggle that had lasted more than a century. Peace of Vienna establishes Britain's global political, economic and imperial dominance which lasts for the next hundred years.