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Regency Portraits Catalogue

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788-1824), Poet

The Byron cult is still very much alive, fostered by Byron Societies in different parts of the world but as far as I know there is no up-to-date iconography of Lord Byron though there have been several outlines: Notes & Queries, 1882-3, VI, pp 342, 422, 472, and VII, p 269; F. G. Kitton, 'Some Portraits of Byron' in Magazine of Art, June 1894; The Bookman, October 1905 and April 1924 contain an interesting collection of articles and illustrations; William A. Shaw, 'The Authentic Portraits of Byron' in Connoisseur, XXX, 1911, pp 155-61 and 251-60 should be treated with caution; 'The Centenary of Lord Byron's Death' a full page spread in The Times, 19 April 1924; 'The Byron Centenary - a Revaluation by Arthur Lynch' in The Graphic, 19 April 1924 with photographs of the John Murray collection at 50 Albemarle Street; J. Kenworthy Browne, 'Byron Portrayed' in Antique Collector, July 1974 deals with sculpture only.
Invaluable information is contained in the V&A Museum 150th Anniversary Exhibition catalogue referred to below as 'Byron 1974', in Leslie Marchand's standard three volume biography referred to as Marchand Byron, in Marchand's twelve volume collection of Byron's letters and journals referred to as Marchand L. & J., and in Mrs Doris Langley Moore's works on Byron referred to by title, especially her lecture 'Byronic Dress' given at the National Portrait Gallery, 11 October 1969 and printed in Costume: the Journal of the Costume Society, no.5, 1971. Essential reading is David Piper's Clark Lecture, 'Byron and the Romantic Image' revised in his The image of the Poet, 1982 as chapter 3.

1785
Miniature by unknown artist at Harrow School (Vaughan Library), identity doubtful but reproduced in Derek Parker, Byron and his World, 1968, p 10.

c.1795
Oil by unknown artist, perhaps Stewardson, formerly at Harrow School, of Byron as a child with his mother seated with book; provenance and identity uncertain, reproduced in Connoisseur, July 1911, p 155.

Watercolour drawing by John (or William) Kay in John Murray collection, engraved by Finden published Murray 1832 and exhibited 'Byron 1974' (A11), whole-length standing with bow, arrows and target.

1801
Pencil drawing by T. W. formerly in Royal Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, identity doubtful, reproduced in Burlington Magazine, 45, 1924, p 257.

1805
Miniature by an unknown artist in private collection London - 'This Miniature of my poor brother was the last taken & sent to me on my birthday A.L.', reproduced for the first time in D. L. Moore, Ada Countess of Lovelace, 1977, p 55 and Acknowledgements p 3.

c.1805
Oil by Madame Vigée-Lebrun, location unknown but recorded in the artist's London Journal, April 1802-May 1805, certainly not the portrait discussed by R. R. Tatlock in Burlington Magazine, 45, 1924, pp 254-61 and sold Christie's 5 December 1969 (130).

Oil by unknown artist formerly at Harrow School, possibly a leaving portrait, reproduced D. L. Moore, Byronic Dress, p 2.

c.1806
Oil in Ethnological Museum Athens, half-length in gown as Cambridge undergraduate, reproduced D. L. Moore, Byronic Dress, p 3.

Silhouette inscribed: Profile of Lord Byron at 18. taken at Southwell, John Murray collection, and another in D. L. Moore collection, perhaps by John Leacroft.

1807-10
Oil by Sanders in the Royal Collection, whole-length landing from a dinghy, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (A41), see Sir Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1969, 106 and plate 258, and Marchand L. & J., I, frontispiece in colour; a figure in Rockingham Biscuit porcelain based on the Sanders whole-length was illustrated in Country Life, 8 October 1953, p 1121. Sanders's picture was given by Byron to his mother who said 'the countenance is angelic and the finest I ever saw and it is very like'; it then belonged to Hobhouse (later Lord Broughton) and was bequeathed by his daughter, Lady Charlotte Dorchester, to HM King George V in 1914.

c.1807
Watercolour drawing by Gilchrist at Newstead Abbey, whole-length in nobleman's academical robes as an undergraduate at Cambridge, reproduced in Marchand L. & J., I, p 162; this is probably a late concoction, the head bearing a close resemblance to Harlow's drawing of 1814-15 (see below).

c.1812
Of several miniatures painted by Sanders one is in the possession of Byron's descendants, another ('improved' by Lady Wentworth) is in Lord Lytton's collection (note in Murray archive), exhibited 'Byron 1974' (F10) and reproduced in Leslie Marchand, Byron A Biography, II frontispiece, full-face with open collar and fur-trimmed cloak; a copy was in Sotheby's Autograph Letters sale 14 December 1976 (181). Byron objected that the miniatures were unlike Sanders's 'dinghy' picture and 'had a very strong objection' to its being used as frontispiece to Murray's projected edition of Childe Harold.

1813
Oils by Phillips and Westall (NPG 142, 1047 and 4243).

1814-15
Black chalk drawing with touches of sanguine by Harlow, Sotheby's 20 February 1968 (276) and 'Byron 1974' (J19), inscribed: Byron and engraved in stipple by Meyer for New Monthly Magazine, 1 August 1815 and subsequently; it is probably the original of several other similar drawings and was described by Mrs Leigh Hunt to Shelley as a 'great schoolboy who had had a plain bun given him instead of a plum one' (Leigh Hunt, Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries, 1828, p 46). A variant in the Huntington Library is dated 1816 (reproduced Derek Parker, Byron and his World, 1968, p 61). A watercolour miniature by Harlow, based on this drawing, was given by Byron to R. B. Hoppner, HM Consul-General in Venice in 1821, in a frame 'carved from a fragment of oak cut from a tree at Newstead', probably the miniature offered to NPG 2 April 1872 (Sir George Scharf’s Trustees’ Sketchbooks, XVIII, 50) later in Francis Wellesley collection, and now at Newstead Abbey. A pencil copy on paper watermarked 1824, signed and dated: J D Sept 182-, was sold by Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Sotheby's 14 March 17 (311). The original is reprodcued in colour in Marchand L. & J., IV, frontispiece.

1814
Bust by Gahagan after Phillips in David Verey collection, reprodcued Country Life, 14 January 1954, p 102, and a bronze variant in HM Embassy Berne (GAC no.1971).

c.1814
Black and red chalk sketch by Sir William Allan formerly in Sir Bruce Ingram collection, exhibited 'British Portraits', RA ,1956-7 (664) ; possibly drawn from life on Allan's return to London from Russia in 1814 and used for his picture 'Lord Byron reposing ... after swimming the Hellespont' exhibited RA 1831 (32) and 'Byron 1974' (S22).

1815
Miniature by James Holmes formerly belonging to Scrope Davies is in Mrs Doris Langley Moore's collection, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (J18); a second copy was given by Augusta Leigh to the Rev J. Bayley in 1827, later in Alfred Morrison collection and now in a private collection (Lovelace, Astarte and Leslie Marchand, Byron A Biography, 1957, p 556). One of these was engraved in stipple by Meyer and hand-coloured for distribution among Byron's friends -'... send me half a dozen of the coloured prints from Holmes's miniature ... It is a picture of my upright self done for Scrope B. Davies Esq.' (letter to Murray 11 April 1818); and later to Holmes himself, '… I prefer that likeness to any which has been done of me by any artist whatever' (Genoa 19 May 1823); Dallas however says that 'Holmes gives him a large instead of his well-proportioned and elegant head' (R. C. Dallas, Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron, 1824). Impressions of these coloured prints are in the Vaughan Library, Harrow, the NPG and various private collections; the NPG impression (4167) given by C. K. Adams in 1960 is inscribed on the backing paper: An exact copy taken from the original picture in the possession of Scrope Davies Esq - the original & copy painted by James Holmes 1818; the print is reproduced as an original in Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, XIII, 1962, p 8.
The other type of Holmes miniature, with lace collar, was engraved in line by R. Grave 'from an original miniature in the possession of Lieut. Col. Leicester Stanhope'; according to Holmes's sons, Stanhope commissioned several replicas, some probably completed by Henry Holmes (A. T. Story, James Holmes and John Varley, 1894, pp 57-60). A miniature attributed to Lady Caroline Lamb, engraved in mezzotint by Charles Turner (Alfred Whitman, Charles Turner, 1907, 85) and 'Etched by David Lucas 1821', appears to be a variant of Holmes's lace collar miniature engraved by Grave.

1816-18
Hand-coloured lithograph of Byron and Marianna Segati (both doubtful) exhibited 'Byron 1974' (L3).

1816
Wax model from life made by Madame Tussaud in April 1816 before he left for Italy, probably after Thorwaldsen (The Times, 19 April 1924, p 14).

1817
Two miniatures by Prepioni painted in Venice for Augusta Leigh in March-April 1817 (letters in Marchand L. & J., V, 191, 212); Byron asked Murray to arrange for Holmes to paint copies of these but Holmes refused.

Clay bust by Thorwaldsen made in Rome April-May 1817 and now in the Thorwaldsen Museum, Copenhagen; marble copies are:
(1) Royal Collection, commissioned by Hobhouse and bequeathed by Lady Dorchester to HM King George V in 1914.
(2) John Murray collection, commissioned by Byron himself and given to Murray through Hobhouse c.1818-20.
(3) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, commissioned by Joseph Coolidge in 1821.
(4) Chatsworth, possibly that belonging to Douglas Kinnaird in 1821.
(5) Thorwaldsen Museum, from Thorwaldsen's studio in Rome.
(6) Corsham Court, probably the bust commissioned by Alexander Murray in 1829.
(7) Ambrosiana, Milan, given by Thorwaldsen to his shoemaker in Milan and bequeathed by him to the Ambrosiana.
(8)Thrumpton Hall, formerly Peel collection at Drayton Manor.
(9) Copy offered to Thorwaldsen Museum in 1884 but not accepted.
(10) Copies are in Rome and Missolonghi.
(11) Statue 1829-34 at Trinity College, Cambridge, originally intended for Westminster Abbey; models are in Copenhagen; small pencil drawing of the head in profile in John Murray collection. A Parian statuette is in the Athenaeum Club, London. The rejection of Thorwaldsen's original statue occasioned Macaulay's celebrated remark: 'we know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality' (Review of Moore's Life of Byron, June 1830).
(Lionel Cust, 'Notes on Pictures in the Royal Collection - the Bust by Thorwaldsen' in Burlington Magazine, April 1915; E. K. Sass, Thorwaidsens Portraetbuster, 1965, III, pp 76-7; H. W. Janson 'Thorwaldsen in England' in Bertel Thorwaldsen, Cologne, 1977, p 113; Sir David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982, pp 138-9.)

c.1817
Miniature by Vincenzo Cammuccini formerly in Accademia S. Luca in Rome, reproduced D. L. Moore, Byron: Accounts Rendered, 1974, p 54.

1818
Pencil and red chalk drawing by Harlow in John Murray collection, head to left with flowing hair dated Venice 6 August 1818, reproduced Marchand L. & J., VI, frontispiece and exhibited 'Byron 1974' (L1); stipple engraving by Scriven. Shelley at this time described him to T. L. Peacock as 'the livest and happiest looking man I ever met' (letter of 8 October 1818) but another observer, Newton Hanson, said 'he looked 40. His face had become pale, bloated and sallow. He had grown fat, his shoulders broad and round, and the knuckles of his hands were lost in fat' (letter of November 1818 cited in Marchand L. & J., VI, p 78n).

Coloured lithograph of Byron in the Palazzo Mocenigo, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (L4), examples in V&A Museum and elsewhere.

1819
Lithograph vignette by Gauci published Colnaghi 1819 (example in British Museum).

1820 (but perhaps posthumous)
Drawing by Thomas Uwins at Newstead Abbey, 'Byron and Teresa Guiccioli', reproduced Marchand L. & J., VII, frontispiece.

1822
Silhouette by Marianna Leigh Hunt as Byron appeared after his daily ride at Pisa and Genoa, first published in New Monthly Magazine, 1826, engraved by Freeman as frontispiece to Leigh Hunt, Lord Byron and some of his Contemporaries, 1828 and exhibited 'Byron 1974' (O9); see Edmund Blunden, 'On a Portrait by Mrs Leigh Hunt' in Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, VI, 1955, pp 7-12.

Marble busts by Bartolini (NPG 1367).

Oil by William Edward West in Scottish NPG; a version in the Vaughan Library, Harrow (reproduced Marchand L. & J., IX, frontispiece) belonged to Douglas Kinnaird and others are known; according to the Contessa Guiccioli who had also been painted by West, 'a frightful caricature that should have been destroyed'. A mezzotint by Charles Turner was published 1826 (Alfred Whitman, Charles Turner, 1907, 86).

Pencil drawing by an unknown artist but related to D'Orsay's drawings below, see a short article by Professor Stuart Curran in Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletin, XXI, 1970 and frontispiece.

1823
Pencil and watercolour drawing by Count D'Orsay in John Murray collection, whole-length standing with stick and tail-coat inscribed: Lord Byron fait a Genes en 1823, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (P4) and reproduced in Marchand L. & J., X, frontispiece; several copies exist including one in the V&A Museum also dated Genoa 1823; a copy dated May 1823 was engraved in stipple for New Monthly Magazine, September 1832; a head and shoulders in tartan coat and black cravat was offered to the NPG in 1934 and this or another is now in John Murray collection ex Sir Thomas Phillipps; a drawing by D'Orsay in Lady Blessington's sale 7-26 May 1849 (1221) was engraved by F. C. and G. C. Lewis, published 1845, showing Byron seated at the tiller of a boat.
Lady Blessington, a shrewd observer herself, gives us a detailed and sympathetic description of his appearance at this time describing him as highly prepossessing, extremely thin, almost boyish, peculiarly pale, his dark brown hair going grey and one eye visibly larger than the other. 'His whole appearance is remarkably gentlemanlike, and he owes nothing of this to his toilette, as his coat appears to have been many years made, is much too large ... I had expected to find him a dignified cold reserved and haughty person resembling those mysterious personages he so loves to paint in his works, and with whom he has been so often identified by a good-natured world; but nothing can be more different' (New Monthly Magazine, XXXV, July 1832, pp 5-6).

c.1823
Lithograph by Adam Friedel ('Baron Friedel von Friedelsburg'), head and shoulders with helmet as one of a series of Greek war heroes, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (Q20); a version actually wearing the helmet was published by Friedel 1825, and another without helmet, artist's name given as 'Morin', was lithographed by Wilkes.

1824
Line engraving by R. Seymour from a drawing by William Parry, whole-length with Greek soldiers and his Newfoundland dog Lion, reproduced in D. L. Moore, The Late Lord Byron, 1961, p 438.

Marble bust by Flatters - 'Mr Flatters the Sculptor is engaged in making a bust of Lord Byron which has been ordered by the family of the deceased. The artist has just received from Missolonghi a platre masqué taken on the face of the poete Guerrier some hours after his death' (New Monthly Magazine, 1 July, 1824, p 308).

Several commemorative medals were struck after Byron's death, the best being A. J. Stothard's in copper exhibited RA 1825 (967) and 'Byron 1974' (R20), described by Colonel M. H. Grant as 'by far the best of all the medals of Byron ever produced' (Connoisseur, XCIV, 1934, p 98) ; others are by Manfredini copied from the Thorwaldsen bust, by Halliday after Harlow's drawing, by Wedgwood in Jasper ware based on the undated Milligan bust, and by Binfield, Faulkner, Le Clerk and Woodhouse (Laurence Brown, British Historical Medals, 1980, 1222-31).

c.1824
Marble busts by E. H. Baily exhibited SBA 1824 (851 and 856) one of which is in the Vaughan Library, Harrow. No sittings are recorded and the busts were probably done from Phillips's oil portraits.

Undated
Miniature by T. O. based on Sanders and given by Byron to Tom Moore 28 May 1820, Sotheby's book sale 22 May 1950 (165), now John Murray.

Miniature by unknown artist in Burlington Fine Arts Club Miniatures Exhibition 1889 (88/13) and Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, 1891 (1068) lent by Jeffery Whitehead, now at Newstead Abbey.

Drawing by D'Auria c.1819, identity doubtful, three-quarter-length to right in fur-trimmed cloak holding a book, short curly hair and moustache, see Iris Origo, The Last Attachment, 1949, there stated to be in the collection of the Contessa Emmy Calerara Cini, and Leslie Marchand, Byron A Biography, II, p 820 and III, p 1055.

Miniature on ivory by Gioffoi at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Marble bust attributed to Milligan, formerly in Ealing Public Library and now in a private collection; bronze version in Huntington Library.

Oil attributed to Lawrence at Trinity College, Cambridge (head and shoulders seated to left in an oval) is surely not of Byron, nor did Lawrence ever have a sitting; Lawrence's nephew, J. R. Bloxham, wrote in a MS notebook now in the Birmingham Reference Library: 'I was one day expressing my astonishment to Sir Thomas Lawrence that among the celebrated and talented men of the age Lord Byron was almost the only one who had not graced his canvas. Sir Thomas replied that a communication had once passed between them on the subject but as his engagements prevented him from acceding to the time of the Noble Bard's appointment the opportunity was broken off and never resumed' (cited by Kenneth Garlick, ‘Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence’ in Walpole Society Journal, XXXIX, 1964, p 46 and reproduced in Sir David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982, p 153).

This list does not include the numerous posthumous portraits, statues and evocations, many of which have considerable interest and quality, for example:

Drawing by Wageman in an emblematic design by Hawksworth engraved by Woolnoth and published Sherwood 12 November 1824.

Oil by Joseph Odevaere in Musée Groeninge, Bruges, painted c.1826 and representing Byron on his deathbed, exhibited 'Byron 1974' (R 16) and reproduced in Sir David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982, p 140.

Watercolour miniatures by George Brown, three-quarter-legnth enthroned in Albanian dress aged about 21; a version in Jacob Rothschild collection was exhibited 'Byron 1974' (R19); another version, signed and dated 1826, was at Christie's 27 June 1961 (19), and another slightly larger dated 1827 at Christie's 23 January 1973 (303); George Brown flourished 1825-39 and all three are probably posthumous variations based on Friedel's lithograph published in 1827.

Oil by Eastlake in the Tate Gallery, 'Lord Byron's Dream' exhibited RA 1829 (157).

Oil by Sir William Allan, 'Lord Byron reposing in the house of a Turkish Fisherman after swimming the Hellespont' exhibited RA 1831 (32), 'Byron 1974' (S22) and in 1977 with Roy Miles, London.

Biscuit porcelain group by Grainger, Lee & Co 1830-5, 'Byron with the Maid of Athens and a Setter' exhibited 'Byron 1974' (S5).

Bronze medallion by David d'Angers cast before 1838, copy in Keats House, Hampstead.

Drawing by Pushkin c.1835 in Institute of Russian Literature, Leningrad; oil given by Pushkin to Antoinette Woulff c.1828; watercolour drawing by Wickel is in the Lenin Library, Moscow (information from Jerome McGann 19 February 1976 in Murray archive).

Watercolour drawing by W. Lake Price 1839, 'Lord Byron in Venice', Nottingham Castle Museum.

Black chalk drawing by Alfred de Musset 1840 is still in the de Musset family possession, exhibited 'Romantic Movement', Tate Gallery, 1959 (428).

Oil by Joseph Severn 1849, 'Lord Byron in the Colosseum, Rome', in Lord Abinger's collection, with a copy in the Keats-Shelley Memorial, Rome.

Watercolour drawing by L. Werner c.1850, 'The Meeting of Byron and Scott at 50 Albemarle Street', an imaginary reconstruction of the scene described in Lockhart's Life of Scott, 1848, p 267, in the John Murray collection and exhibited 'Byron 1974' (E15).

Oil by Friedrich Nerly senior, 'Byron and his circle in conversation on a terrace overlooking the
Venetian Lagoon at sunset', Sotheby's 6 March 1974 (150).

Bronze statue by R. C. Belt erected in Hyde Park and unveiled by Lord Houghton May 1880.

Drawings by Max Beerbohm 1904, 'Lord Byron shaking the Dust of England from his shoes', reprodcued on Daily Telegraph Magazine cover 19 April 1974; 1929 'Our Abbey' with Lord Byron and the Dean of Westminster Abbey, original drawing in New South Wales Art Gallery, Sydney.

Statue by P. MacGihivray 1923, Aberdeen Grammar School.



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.