Born in 1856

George Bernard Shaw, by Sir (John) Bernard Partridge, 1894 - NPG  - Reproduced with permission of Punch Ltd

George Bernard Shaw
by Sir (John) Bernard Partridge
NPG 4229

Past display archive 
28 January - 3 August 2006

Room 24 showcase


This display focuses on the generation of exceptional individuals who were born in 1856, the year the National Portrait Gallery was founded. George Bernard Shaw, John Singer Sargent, Keir Hardie and Sigmund Freud are all included alongside less well-known figures who have nevertheless made a significant impact on the way we live today. They include Annie Rogers, the promoter of women's higher education, Sir Joseph John Thomson, the Nobel prize winning physicist, and William Willett, the inventor of daylight saving.

Most of these sitters made their mark in the twentieth century yet they were born at a time when Queen Victoria's own family was still expanding and Britain was embroiled in the Crimean War. Their lives form a bridge between the seemingly distant era of the mid-nineteenth century and a recognisably modern period with the development of the Labour Party, psychoanalysis and subatomic physics.

Keir Hardie, by (John) Furley Lewis, 1902 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Keir Hardie
by (John) Furley Lewis
NPG P1091

John Singer Sargent, by James E. Purdy, 1903 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

John Singer Sargent
by James E. Purdy
NPG x11845

Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers, by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), 23 October 1926 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers
by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd)
23 October 1926
NPG x41479