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

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Woolner (1825-1892), Sculptor and poet

By other artists
Posthumous portrait
Doubtful photographs

By other artistsback to top

Drawing by unidentified artist, inscr. ‘Mr B--s Tyger’, whole-length, standing to left, hat raised in right hand, in William Behnes’s studio; untraced. Repr. Woolner 1917, facing p.14.

Drawing, medium and dimensions unknown, by William Holman Hunt, The Pre-Raphaelite Meeting, whole-length, kneeling in front of fireplace with pipe, third from left in group also including James Collinson (seated) and William Michael Rossetti; untraced; known only from a photograph of a drawing made by Arthur Hughes c.1904–5 from a sketch by Hunt. Ref. Bronkhurst 2006, vol.2, L13; repr. (from Hughes’s sketch) Hunt 1905, vol.1, p.140; Hunt 1913, vol.1, p.101; Roberts & Wildman 1997, no.B57.2, p.276; and Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, p.65, pl.2(a).
See also Millais, Rossetti, Stephens.

Pen and ink drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whole-length, profile to left, standing holding pipe in right hand and looking at a statuette on a studio stand; Birmingham MAG, 1904P368. Exh. The Poetry of Drawing, Birmingham MAG and AG of New S Wales, Sydney, 2011 (102). Ref. Surtees 1971, no.538; repr. Cruise 2011, p.107, fig.133.

Pen and ink sketch by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in letter to Walter Howell Deverell, Aug. 1851, inscr. ‘Down behind the hidden village’, profile to right, with pipe, seated second from left in group; Huntington L., San Marino, CA. Repr. Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, letter 51:18, p.180, pl.3 (captioned ‘Reunion at James Hannay’s); and Marsh 1999, pl.13.
See also Hunt, Rossetti.

Pencil drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; see NPG 3848.

Caricature sketch by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whole-length to left, seated by a stove ‘as a fire-fiend’, in letter; untraced. Repr. Woolner 1917, p.56; and Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, p.220, pl.5(b). [1]

Sketch by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, with crocodile; untraced. [2]

Pen and ink caricature drawing by Edward Lear, in letter from Lear to Woolner, 16 Feb. 1860, whole-length to right, dancing with Holman Hunt; untraced. Repr. Woolner 1917, p.186. Woolner is now bearded. [3]

Oil on canvas by Alphonse Legros, half-length to left, head turned to viewer; Ipswich M., R.1921-106. Repr. Read & Barnes 1991, p.109. ‘In November [1874] M. Alphonse Legros painted a portrait in oils of Woolner just before the Sculptor went on a tour on the Continent’; Woolner 1917, p.300.
Pencil drawing by Legros; coll. Woolner family, Bradley Manor, Devon (NPG NoC [Bradley]).

Pen and ink drawing, 306 x 444mm, by (Edward) Linley Sambourne for Royal Academy Banquet at Burlington House., a comic take on William Salter’s The Waterloo Banquet, signed and dated Apr. 1881, head-and-shoulders, seated first from the left on the back row of RAs; Aberdeen AG, ABDAG003898. Repr. Punch, 7 May 1881, p.206; Gould 2004, p.154, fig.122; McMaster 2008, p.70, fig.18, McMaster 2009, p.42, fig.25; and Ormond 2010, p.83, fig.30.
See also Alma-Tadema, Ansdell, Armitage, Barlow, Boehm, Boughton, Calderon, Cope, Faed, Fildes, Frith, Goodall, Herkomer, Hodgson, Holl, Horsley, Leighton, Marks, Millais, Orchardson, Pearson, Pettie, Pickersgill, Poynter, Prinsep, Sant, Thornycroft, Watts, Yeames.

Pen and ink drawing, 317 x 419mm, by (Edward) Linley Sambourne for Saturday Review of the Royal Academy.- The March Past., signed and dated Apr. 1882, head-and-shoulders, profile to left, first from right on back row of Academy ‘troops’; coll. Juliet McMaster. Engr. by Swain repr. Punch, 6 May 1882, p.206; McMaster 2008, p.71, fig.20; and McMaster 2009, p.46, fig.27.
See also Alma-Tadema, Ansdell, Barlow, Boehm, Boughton, Calderon, Cope, Faed, Frith, Goodall, Herkomer, Hodgson, Holl, Horsley, Leighton, Marks, Millais, Orchardson, Pettie, Pickersgill, Poynter, Prinsep, Sant, Watts.

Oil on canvas by Andrew Carrick Gow, head-and-shoulders, slightly to right, in oval; Aberdeen AG, 2453.

publ. 1883
Drawing by Theodore Blake Wirgman, whole-length, standing, left foot on step, in studio working on a bust; untraced. Wood-engr. repr. Century Magazine, vol.4, 1883, p.167 (cutting BM, London); and MEPL, London, 1018731.

Chalk and grey wash drawing, 337 x 216mm, by (William) Walker Hodgson, signed and dated 14. Jan 1892; untraced. Exh. A Fraternity of Artists, Christopher Wood G., London, 1984 (41). See also NPG collection 4041(1–5).
The last recorded portrait of Woolner.

Undated portraits
Pen and ink sketch by unidentified artist; untraced. [4]

Doubtful portraits

Pencil drawing by William Holman Hunt, two heads, profile to right, and head-and-shoulders, looking to left; coll. Executors of Mrs Burt. Ref. Bronkhurst 2006, no.L16 (not ill., identified as ‘possibly Thomas Woolner’). Repr. Bronkhurst 1987, no.D55, p.363, plate 175.

Pen and ink wash drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, inscr. ‘a parable of love’, whole-length, rear view, head turned to his right, face reflected in adjacent mirror, wearing medieval costume, leaning over the shoulder of girl seated at an easel; Birmingham MAG, 1904P491. Exh. The Pre-Raphaelites, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2009 (44); ref. Surtees 1971, no.668; repr. Ahlund 2009, p.170.

Pencil drawing by Arthur Hughes, young man reading reclining full-length to right on couch; coll. Munro family. ‘the sitter bears some resemblance to Thomas Woolner’; Roberts & Wildman 1997, no.21, repr. p.131.

Possible portrait

Portrait by Walter Howell Deverell after daguerreotype by unidentified photographer; untraced. See below, ‘Photographs, c.1853’.

Posthumous portraitback to top

Pencil and watercolour caricature drawing by Max Beerbohm, Woolner at Farringford, 1857, whole-length, slightly to left, wearing smock, sculpting Tennyson; Tate, A01046. Ref. Hart-Davis 1972, no.1657; repr. Beerbohm 1922 and Beerbohm 1987, pl.9.

Photographsback to top

Woolner was very interested in photography. He commissioned photographic records of his work and frequently sat for portraits. His grandson Major General C.G. Woolner presented a selection of twenty of these photographs to the NPG in 1975 (‘Woolner Gift’). In 1990 the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, acquired ‘nearly 100 personal photographs of Woolner and his family’. [5]

Daguerreotype by unidentified photographer; untraced. ‘I had a gathering here last night, at which almost everyone was present – neither was Woolnerius utterly absent: the daguerreotype being set open over the mantelpiece.’ [6]

Daguerreotypes by unidentified photographer; untraced. ‘TW sent some daguerreotypes to his father on 13 Dec 53, and it is just possible that Mr Woolner commissioned WH Deverell to have a portrait taken from one of them.’ [7] See above, ‘Possible portraits, c.1853’.

Albumen print, carte-de-visite size, by unidentified photographer, whole-length, full-face, standing, hands in pockets; NPG x5132. [8]

Photograph by unidentified photographer, whole-length, standing, right arm resting on stand on which is plaster model of Woolner’s statue of John Robert Godley; coll. Alec Stirling; copy coll. Conway L., Courtauld Inst., London.

publ. 1864
Albumen prints by Ernest Edwards, three known poses in overcoat and light trousers:
(a) whole-length, head turned to viewer, seated to left with legs crossed; colls NPG Ax13906, x5144; and The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., Compton, COMWG2008.2232. Prints in Reeve & Walford 1863–7, May 1864, vol.2, no.12, p.33 (see copy of book NPG Photographs Collection, album 93).
(b) whole length, standing to right, leaning against table, head facing. This variant found in Wellcome Library copy of Reeve & Walford 1863–7, May 1864, vol.2, no.12, p.33.
(c) whole-length, standing to front, looking to left, his left hand behind back, top hat on table at right; ref. The Art Newspaper (half-length detail).

Albumen print by William Jeffrey, half-length, standing to left, working on statue of Macaulay (1866; coll. Trinity Coll., Cambridge); NPG x5130.

Albumen print by unidentified photographer, head-and-shoulders, seated to right in carriage no.13, with top hat and thick beard, in group of 23 figures inspecting Metropolitan Railway extensions, Kensington High St station, July 1868; NPG x27688.

Albumen prints by William Jeffrey, two known poses:
(a) half-length, seated to right, eyes lowered, hands clasped on walking stick; NPG x5127.
(b) half-length, seated to right, hands clasped on walking stick, little finger raised; NPG x5143. [9]

Albumen print by unidentified photographer, half-length, seated to right, hands clasped on lap; NPG x5142.

Albumen print, arched top, by Henry Dixon & Son, possibly after Henry Dixon, three-quarter-length, seated to right, hands crossed on lap; NPG x5141.

Albumen print, arched top, by Elliott & Fry, head-and-shoulders, near-profile to right; colls NPG x5128; and carte-de-visite (image reduced on four sides), Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC, Hiram Powers Papers 1819-1903, series 6, box 10, folder 66, no.33 (identified as W. Holman Hunt). [10]

Vintage copy print, whole-length to right, reclining, second from left in the foreground, with group of his workmen on a grassy bank; NPG x5140. Repr. Woolner 1917, facing p.119. [11]

publ. 1875
Albumen carte-de-visite by Elliott & Fry, head-and-shoulders, three-quarters to right, fob-chain in waistcoat; The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., Compton, COMWG2008.268. Repr. (as wood-engr. by R. & E. Taylor after Elliott & Fry) in unidentified publication (not ILN), 22 May 1875 (cutting NPG SB [Woolner]).

Albumen carte-de-visite by Negretti & Zambra, head-and-shoulders, slightly turned to left, shirt front covered by beard; NPG x5133. Repr. (as wood-engr. by ‘S.T.’ after Negretti & Zambra) ILN, 2 Jan. 1875, p.13; and MEPL, London, 10178730.

Albumen cabinet card by Fradelle & Marshall, half-length, seated, profile to left, right arm over chairback; NPG x5135.

publ. 1877
Photographs by Lock & Whitfield, two known poses:
(a) half-length to left, eyes to left; colls NPG x133412 (uncropped, woodburytype), NPG x5134 (oval, albumen cabinet card), NPG Ax17538 (oval, woodburytype), NPG Ax38743 (woodburytype) and NPG x134574 (woodburytype); The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., Compton, COMWG2008.1023, COMWG2008.1100 and COMWG2008.2085|”COMWG2008.163.2085”&database=ChoiceCollect}; and Getty Images, 79021840. Repr. Cooper 1876–83, ser.2, 1877, no.27; Woolner 1917, facing p.266.
(b) three-quarter-length, seated to left, eyes to spectator, book in right hand; colls NPG x5129 (carbon print); and MEPL, London, 10178729.

reg. 1883
Albumen cabinet cards by Frank Dudman forJoseph Parkin Mayall, in Woolner’s studio, three known poses:
(a) whole-length, profile to right, standing, working on bust of Tennyson (1873; exh. RA 1876); reg. for copyright 1883 Sep. 24: National Archives (COPY 1/365/260); colls NPG x13286; NT, Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton; and The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., Compton, COMWG2008.401. Repr. Woolner 1917, facing p.325; Maas 1984, p.120; and Bills & Webb 2007, no.123.
(b) whole-length, standing, leaning on pedestal, gavel and chisel in hands; reg. for copyright 1883 Sep. 24: National Archives (COPY 1/365/261)
(c) whole-length, standing, smoking a pipe, busts on shelves in background; reg. for copyright 1883 Sep. 24: National Archives (COPY 1/365/262); colls NPG x5131. Repr. ILN, 15 Oct. 1892, p.475 (obits) (cutting BM, London).[12]

publ. 1888
Albumen cabinet cards by Elliott & Fry, three known poses:
(a) The Autotype Co. after Elliott & Fry, head-and-shoulders, full-face; coll. NPG x5136. Repr. (as halftone), MA, 1893, p.72; (as wood-engr. by unidentified engraver) AJ, NS, 1894, p.81.
(b) head-and-shoulders, near-profile to left; repr. (as halftone) The Year’s Art 1888, facing p.72; (as wood-engr. by J.M. Johnstone), MA, 1892 (cutting BM, London).
(c) head-and-shoulders, full-face, head slightly inclined to left (very similar to pose [a], possibly the same); The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., London, COMWG2008.3714.

reg. 1889
Platinum prints by Ralph Winwood Robinson, two known poses:
(a) half-length, standing to right, working at profile on easel; reg. for copyright 1889 Aug. 20: National Archives (1/397/265); NPG x7402. Repr. Robinson [1892].
(b) whole-length, seated to right, with open book on right knee; reg. for copyright 1889 Aug 20: National Archives (1/397/264).

Albumen cabinet card by John Golden Short, Lyndhurst, whole-length to right, left hand on hip, with two other artists, one seated at easel; NPG x5139.

Albumen cabinet cards by unidentified photographer, two outdoor poses in ovals:
(a) almost three-quarter-length, head turned to left, left arm behind back; NPG x5137.
(b) almost half-length, full-face; NPG x5138.

Large platinum print by unidentified photographer, half-length, seated slightly to left, eyes to right; NPG x5126.

Doubtful photographsback to top

Sheet of nine photographs by unidentified photographer of the founder members of the Working Men’s College, rephotographed by Emery Walker; neg. NPG EW box no.858/11. Woolner was a founder member of the WMC, but the portrait captioned ‘Thos Woolner’ shows a bald man, unlike any other in the iconography, and is almost certainly not of him.

Cox & Ford 2003, p.292, discount Gernsheim’s claim (Gernsheim 1975, p.194, pl.147) of a photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron.

1) ‘We have been amusing ourselves since dinner with trying to sketch heads from memory. They are lying about the table – all more or less mulls [rubbish]. Here is one of yourself which looks like a fire-fiend.’ Letter from D.G. Rossetti to T. Woolner, 1 Jan. 1853, Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, letter no.53:1, p.221.
2) ‘Hunt & I the other evening amused ourselves at the old game of sketching friends from memory. Here is a historical portrait of you which I did […] you will see that the accessory alligator is on the epic scale.’ Letter from D.G. Rossetti to T. Woolner, 17 Apr. 1853, Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, letter no.53:23, p.247.
3) ‘He did not grow a beard until 1858, when he wrote to Mrs Tennyson: “Tell Hallam he will not know me unless he try to imagine me with a cocoanut mat tied round my chin!!”’ Woolner 1917, p.102.
4) ‘I do not know what the pen and ink sketch of me is like, but I have no objection to it being published.’ Letter from T. Woolner to Harry Quilter, 20 July 1886; Bodleian L., Oxford, Dept. of Western Mss.
5) See Henry Moore Inst., Leeds, Woolner Archive, 8.1992; and Lukitsh 2005.
6) Letter from D.G. Rossetti to T. Woolner, 1 Jan. 1853, Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, letter no.53:1, p.223.
7) Letter from D.G. Rossetti to F.G. Stephens, [Feb. 1854], Fredeman 2002–10, vol.1, letter no.54:19, p.325 n1.
8) Probably the ‘little one’ referred to in letter from Jane Carlyle to T. Woolner, 22 Nov. 1862: ‘1000 thanks dear Mr. Woolner! I can’t make up my mind yet which of the Photographs I like best. The little one is the most characteristic; exactly the attitude in which you stand on our hearthrug! But the larger one will be best for hanging on a wall. So I mean to frame both.’ Woolner 1917, p.201. There are no portraits of Woolner presently at Carlyle’s House (NT), London.
9) ‘he gives marvellous point to all he says, by a delicate sculptorlike use of his hands and by the power of his face. For his face, with lionlike hair and crisp chestnut beard and deepest keen eyes and cleancut features, has a manliness and intellectual might in its look, such as one seldom sees.’ Arthur Munby Diary, 26 Mar. 1863; quoted D. Hudson, Munby: Man of Two Worlds, London, 1972, p.154.
10) ‘The sculptor with hair like a torch’: Lionel Tennyson on Woolner, 1865; quoted Woolner 1917, p.258.
11) ‘Woolner was in the habit of taking his workmen, modellers and carvers for an outing in the country every summer. He is seen whilst on one of these friendly expeditions in the group, on the left of the white haired old man in the centre.’ Woolner 1917, p.260.
12) The statuette to the right appears to be Godiva, which was exhibited RA 1878. The prominence given to famous Woolner sculptures of the 1870s in the Dudman photographs can be misleading. His appearance certainly belongs to the 1880s.

Carol Blackett-Ord