2 of 26 portraits of Edmund Kean
by James Northcote
oil on canvas, 1819
94 1/2 in. x 58 1/4 in. (2400 mm x 1482 mm)
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Artistback to top
- James Northcote (1746-1831), Painter; pupil and biographer of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Artist associated with 103 portraits, Sitter associated with 23 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Kean is seen here in the title role of Howard Payne's Brutus (1818) which he performed to considerable success. Northcote has chosen to depict the final scene when Brutus speaks with his son Titus whom he has condemned to execution. It was painted for Kean's close friend S.W. Reynolds, who engraved and published a mezzotint of the picture.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 345
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1819back to top
Current affairsPeterloo Massacre leaves eleven dead and four hundred wounded as crowds, gathered to hear radical Henry Hunt call for reform of the House of Commons, are forcibly dispersed. Six Acts are passed, stiffening the 1795 Treason Act and introducing a tax on the periodical press which was viewed as seditious.
Art and sciencePercy Bysshe Shelley writes Ode to the West Wind during a year of extraordinary creativity in which he also finishes Prometheus Unbound.Lord Byron publishes his tour-de-force Don Juan; one man's mock-epic odyssey through a world without fixed principles. First ship with a steam engine crosses the Atlantic in twenty-eight days.
InternationalThomas Jefferson establishes the University of Virginia.Royal Navy anti-slave squadron is set up to patrol the West African coastline.French physician Rene Laennac invents the stethoscope.
See this portrait
On display in Room 19 at the National Portrait Gallery