by Sir William Beechey
oil on canvas, 1800
24 1/2 in. x 19 in. (623 mm x 483 mm)
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1985
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805), Vice-Admiral and victor of Trafalgar. Sitter in 85 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 250 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
This portraitback to top
When Nelson returned home from Europe in 1800, he was not only the 'Hero of the Nile', but the subject of intense gossip because of his affair with Emma Hamilton. The portrait copies produced by Lemuel Francis Abbott after his painting of 1797 had satisfied public demand up to a point, but on Nelson's return to London a spate of artists set to work to further immortalise him. In recognition of his Norfolk origins, this portrait was commissioned by the City of Norwich. It depicts Nelson with an air of quiet self-confidence and is considered the most faithful likeness of him. Nelson's last engagement was his greatest victory. Beechey's sketch captures the proud resolve of the Admiral who, refusing to cover his glittering medals, was killed by a sniper while destroying the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Linked publicationsback to top
- I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, 2010, p. 28
- National Portrait Gallery: 100 Portraits, p. 54
- Audio Guide
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 32
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 61
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 86
- Holmes, Richard; Crane, David; Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantics and Revolutionaries: Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 2002, p. 10
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 455
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 317
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 118
- Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantic Icons, 1999, p. 41
Events of 1800back to top
Current affairsWidespread food riots after poor harvests of 1798-9. Theorist, Thomas Malthus, controversially argues that poverty and food shortages are an inevitable consequence of population growth, challenging assumptions that populousness was a sign of national prosperity and power. His thesis contributed forcefully to the debate over the existing Poor Law.
Art and scienceWilliam Wordsworth publishes his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads; a retrospective explanation of his experimental poems written with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It becomes one of the best-known manifestos of Romantic literature.
InternationalLord Castlereagh, Chief Secretary for Ireland, is the main architect of the Act of Union under which Ireland is merged with Great Britain and the Irish parliament is abolished.
British troops support successful uprising by Maltese against the French.
Napoleon is victorious against Austrians at Marengo and reconquers Italy.
- My Favourite Portrait by Alan Titchmarsh
- Nelson: before and after Trafalgar
- Viscount Nelson
- Plaster figure makers: a short history
- WebQuest: Pepys, Nelson, Seacole
- Only Connect
- Only Connect - Horatio Nelson <> Joseph Haydn
- Only Connect - Horatio Nelson <> William Hamilton
- Only Connect - Horatio Nelson <> Emma Hamilton
- Only Connect - Horatio Nelson <> Richard Cosway
- Only Connect - installation video
- The Regency
- WebQuest: Diversity on Display