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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), Poet

Shelley's physical appearance was described by many of his contemporaries including Byron, Leigh Hunt, Hogg, Beddoes and De Quincey, usually belying Matthew Arnold's 'ineffectual angel' image which stemmed from Amelia Curran's amateurish and effeminate oil.

'He was both an active and enduring walker, - feats which do not accompany an ailing and feeble constitution. His face was round, flat, pale, with small features; mouth beautifully shaped; hair bright brown and wavy; and such a pair of eyes as rarely seen in the human or any other head, intensely blue, with a gentle and lambent expression' (Cowden Clarke, Recollection of Writers, 1878).

Referencesback to top

Blunden 1946
Edmund Blunden, Shelley, 1946.

Dowden 1886
Edward Dowden, Life of Shelley, 2 vols., 1886.

Forman n.d.
Harry Buxton Forman's notes, no date, typescript in NPG library.

Ingpen & Peck (eds.) 1965
Complete Works, ed. Ingpen & Peck, 10 vols., 1965.

Keats-Shelley Memorial Bulletins, sequence from 1910.

Norman 1955
Sylva Norman, Flight of the Skylark, 1955.

Piper 1982
David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982.

Tomalin 1980
Claire Tomalin, Shelley And His World, 1980.

White 1947
Newman Ivey White, Shelley, 2 vols., 1947.

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.