William Ewart Gladstone

1 portrait on display in Room 28 at the National Portrait Gallery

William Ewart Gladstone, by Rupert Potter, 28 July 1884 - NPG x5885 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Ewart Gladstone

by Rupert Potter
albumen print, 28 July 1884
7 3/4 in. x 5 5/8 in. (197 mm x 142 mm) image size
Given by Mrs W.O. (Elfrida) Manning (née Thornycroft), 1958
Photographs Collection
NPG x5885

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  • Rupert Potter (1832-1914), Barrister and photographer; father of Beatrix Potter. Artist associated with 29 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Beatrix Potter recounted the occasion of this sitting: 'Papa has been photographing old Gladstone this morning at Mr. Millais'. [...] They kept off politics of course, and talked about photography. Mr. Gladstone talked of it on a large scale, but not technically. What would it come to, how far would the art be carried, did papa think people would ever be able to photograph in colours?' Taken in John Everett Millais's studio during the third sitting for the 'Rosebery' portrait, the second of Millais's four paintings of Gladstone.

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Current affairs

The Third Reform Act further reduces the financial threshold for voters, extending the franchise to all householders in the counties, achieving uniformity with those in the boroughs, and effectively doubling the electorate from 2.5 million to just under 5 million. Foundation of the socialist group, the Fabian Society. The group quickly grows in size, including members Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb.

Art and science

Under the editorship of James Murray, the Oxford English Dictionary begins publication, with the tenth and final volume appearing 1928. The idea for a historical dictionary of the English language had been conceived by members of the Philological Society in 1857, including Frederick Furnivall, and some 800 voluntary readers contributed to the immense project.


Germany annexes Southwest Africa, Togoland, the Cameroons, and Tanganyike, and launches the scramble for Africa as it becomes the third largest colonial power in the continent. Bismarck also invites the European powers to a West Africa conference in Berlin, which, carving up the map of Africa between them, regulates colonial practice, frees trade and prohibits slavery, formally marking the start of the New Imperialism which would flourish until World War I.

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