Benjamin Disraeli

Past display archive
13 January - 15 August 2010

Room 25 case display



Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, by (Cornelius) Jabez Hughes, 22 July 1878 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield
by (Cornelius) Jabez Hughes
22 July 1878
NPG x665

The four photographs or cabinet cards in this display show Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) when he was Prime Minister in 1878 towards the end of his long political career. Defeated in 1880 he died less than a year after leaving office Taken in a single sitting on 22nd July 1878 at Osborne House, Isle of Wight as part of a series by photographer (Cornelius) Jabez Hughes (1819-84) they were commissioned by Queen Victoria to mark the recent diplomatic success of Britain at the Congress of Berlin, orchestrated by Disraeli. They show a different Disraeli to the ambitious statesman of the mid-century, a more introspective and contemplative figure.

Unlike her relations with Gladstone, Victoria valued Disraeli highly and had even objected to his departure to Berlin for, ‘he is the wise head and hand that rules the Government and my great support and comfort…his health and life are of immense value to me and the country and should on no account be risked’. On his return she made him Knight of the Garter and offered him a dukedom which he declined. These photographs record the occasion.