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Sir Leslie Stephen

7 of 10 portraits on display in Room 26 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sir Leslie Stephen, by George Frederic Watts, 1878 - NPG L238 - Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Leslie Stephen

by George Frederic Watts
oil on canvas, 1878
26 in. x 20 7/8 in. (660 mm x 530 mm)
Lent by Matthew Synge, 2006
Primary Collection
NPG L238


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Sitterback to top

  • Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), Writer, philosopher, mountaineer and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. Sitter in 13 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Painter and sculptor. Artist associated with 85 portraits, Sitter in 42 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait was painted in a single sitting on 17 January 1878 as a wedding present for Stephen's fiancée, Julia Duckworth. A contemporary reviewer described Stephen's appearance in the painting as 'critical yet deprecating, sarcastic and mournful, fastidious, thoughtful and Bohemian: not one who ranks either himself or others very high, or expects much from a life that appears to him full of errors of taste, weaknesses of intellect, and futilities of aim'. The introspective, even melancholic, tone seems characteristic of Stephen's personality.