#GiveItSomeWelly - The Wellington Appeal

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1829
© Private Collection

The 'Iron Duke' is one of the towering figures of British history. He never lost a battle, reshaped Europe and dominated Britain until his death. His career and legacy are intimately involved with the development of the United Kingdom. Now, more than 200 years after his most famous victory at the Battle of Waterloo it’s time we helped the National Portrait Gallery win the day.
Dan Snow, TV Presenter & Historian

After more than 150 years, the National Portrait Gallery has at last been offered the opportunity to acquire a major portrait of the Duke of Wellington which will fill a significant gap in the Collection. Sir Thomas Lawrence’s painting of the Duke of Wellington is an exceptional portrait of one of the most iconic heroes in British history.

The portrait has been offered at £1.3 million provided the funds can be raised by March 2017. This is a major campaign for the Gallery as the painting is one of just two world-class portraits of Wellington painted by Lawrence, who was the greatest portrait painter of the age. Now may be our only chance to secure this work for decades or even centuries to come.

Thanks to generous support from Art Fund combined with the Gallery’s own funds, we have secured
£1 million of the total required, however, we cannot reach our target without your help.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain. He was hailed as the hero whose defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 saved Europe from tyranny. Serving twice as Prime Minister, the ‘Iron Duke’ has remained one of the most popular figures in British history, and more than 90 pubs nationwide bear his name.

Sir Thomas Lawrence

The gifted Thomas Lawrence succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as Britain’s greatest portrait painter. With the temperament and flair to capture the glamour of the age, Lawrence created the image of Regency politics and high-society. The Gallery is today a centre of expertise on Thomas Lawrence, and in 2010 presented the most significant exhibition of work by the artist in 40 years.

The Painting

Sir Thomas Lawrence painted the Duke of Wellington eight times in fifteen years and was his arch image maker. This unfinished painting, known as the ‘Jersey’ portrait was commissioned by Lady Jersey who was a leading political hostess of the time. It was made just before the artist’s death and is one of his most successful portraits of Wellington. It was relatively unknown prior to its loan to the Gallery in 2014 as it had never been publicly exhibited in Britain.

This portrait depicts Wellington as statesman rather than soldier. During a troubled time for government, the Duke’s bold gaze and commanding presence evokes his firm resolve in facing down his critics. However, there is also a vulnerability within this portrait, perhaps due to its unfinished state. This gives a sense that the portrait is shot with psychological drama. It is an important document of Lawrence’s working practice.

For more information or to make a donation please contact:

Melanie Aram 
Head of Major Gifts and Appeals
020 7312 2469

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