The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

William Henry Smith

(1825-1891), Newsagent and politician, First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 25 portraits
At the age of twenty-one he became a partner in his father's newsagent business. Although his father wished to confine the business to an agency selling newspapers, Smith rented a bookstall at Euston Station in 1848. He developed a network of railway bookstalls widely, and by 1862 had secured exclusive bookstall rights on all the important English railway systems. Though he had entered the business reluctantly, he became one of the best-known Victorian capitalists, whose name in the mid-nineteenth century was a byword for mass distribution. In 1868, he was elected as a Conservative MP and was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury six years later. In 1877, he became First Lord of the Admiralty.

Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below

Tell us More

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close

List Thumbnail

William Henry Smith, by John Douglas Miller, published by  Paul and Dominic Colnaghi & Co, after  George Richmond - NPG D41780

William Henry Smith

by John Douglas Miller, published by Paul and Dominic Colnaghi & Co, after George Richmond
mezzotint, published 25 April 1883
NPG D41780

William Henry Smith, by John Douglas Miller, after  George Richmond - NPG D20314

William Henry Smith

by John Douglas Miller, after George Richmond
mezzotint, published 1883
NPG D20314

William Henry Smith ('Statesmen. No. 533.'), by Sir Leslie Ward - NPG D44358

William Henry Smith ('Statesmen. No. 533.')

by Sir Leslie Ward
chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 12 November 1887
NPG D44358

"In Vanity Fair" (King George V, Prince Arthur of Connaught and 20 others)

by Unknown artist
chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 29 November 1890
NPG D44518

Web image not currently available

William Henry Smith

by Unknown photographer
albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s
NPG Ax38761




Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this person? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.