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William Wordsworth

20 of 23 portraits of William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, by Edward McInnes, published by  Sir Francis Graham Moon, 1st Bt, after  Margaret Gillies, published 6 August 1841 - NPG D36298 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Wordsworth

by Edward McInnes, published by Sir Francis Graham Moon, 1st Bt, after Margaret Gillies
mezzotint, published 6 August 1841
13 7/8 in. x 10 1/8 in. (352 mm x 258 mm) plate size; 20 in. x 14 3/4 in. (509 mm x 376 mm) paper size
Reference Collection
NPG D36298

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Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Margaret Gillies (1803-1887), Painter. Artist associated with 9 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.
  • Edward McInnes (1812-1859), Mezzotint engraver. Artist associated with 24 portraits.
  • Sir Francis Graham Moon, 1st Bt (1796-1871), Printseller and publisher. Artist associated with 59 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Wordsworth experienced recurring episodes of the infectious disease trachoma, which causes painful inflammation of the eyelids and can lead to temporary or long-term blindness, from 1805 until his death. Described by his daughter Dora as a 'blind man' during one instance, he sought repeated medical advice to manage symptoms, which often confined him to darkened rooms for days. He was also advised that the writing of poetry could exacerbate the condition. Wordsworth was recovering from a recent inflammation when the artist Margaret Gillies painted the portrait from which this print is taken in 1839.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D13986: William Wordsworth (based on same portrait)
  • NPG D21204: William Wordsworth (based on same portrait)

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1841back to top

Current affairs

Sir Robert Peel's second term as Prime Minister. Peel replaces the Whig Prime Minister Lord Melbourne after a Conservative general election victory. The English comic periodical Punch is first published, under the auspices of engraver Ebenezer Landells and writer Henry Mayhew, and quickly establishes itself as a radical commentary on the arts, politics and current affairs, notable for its heavily satirised cartoons.

Art and science

Thomas Carlyle publishes his set of lectures On Heroes and Hero Worship, in which he attempts to connect past heroic figures to significant figures form the present. William Henry Fox Talbot invents the calotype process, in which photographs were developed from negatives. This allowed for multiple copies of images to be made, and was the basis of modern, pre-digital, photographic processing.


Signing of the Straits Convention, an international agreement between Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Turkey, denying access to non-Ottoman warships through the seas connecting the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, a major concession by Russia. Whilst signalling a spirit of co-operation, the convention emphasises the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

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