by George Frederic Watts
oil on canvas, 1880
26 in. x 20 1/2 in. (660 mm x 521 mm)
Given by George Frederic Watts, 1895
Sitterback to top
- Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), Poet, writer and inspector of schools. Sitter in 18 portraits.
Artistback to top
- George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Painter and sculptor. Artist associated with 91 portraits, Sitter in 43 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Mrs Arnold records how Arnold and Watts had become close 'through the intercourse held during quiet hours, whilst Signor painted and Matthew Arnold sat for his portrait'. In a letter to Watts of 18 August, 1885, Arnold wrote of him as the 'highest and single-minded artist' he knew.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Funnell, Peter; Warner, Malcolm, Millais: Portraits, 1999 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 19 February to 6 June 1999), p. 28
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 18
- Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 74, 173
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1880back to top
Current affairsThe Liberals defeat the Conservatives, and Gladstone becomes Prime Minister for the second time, taking over from Disraeli, who retires from politics.
The MP for Northampton and atheist Charles Bradlaugh, refuses to swear on the Bible and so forfeits his right to take his seat. Despite having the support of Gladstone and J.S Mill, it takes six years before he can take his seat, after which he pushes through a new Oaths Act (1888).
Art and scienceThomas Huxley delivers his address 'Science and Culture' at the opening of Josiah Mason's science college in Birmingham (published the following year). Huxley argues that the study of modern literature, combined with knowledge of science, should be promoted in education above classical literature, echoing the claim made by the poet and critic Matthew Arnold. Huxley, an early advocate of 'Darwinism', did much to popularise evolutionary theory.
InternationalBuenos Aires finally becomes the permanent capital of Argentina, following sixty years of political debates around the issue. The city was federalised, politically separated from the Buenos Aires Province, and placed under direct control of the national government.
Despite allegations of vote buying, Cecil Rhodes is elected member of parliament for Barkly West in the Cape Colony, marking the start of his political career in South Africa.
See this portrait
On display in Room 26 at the National Portrait Gallery
- G.F Watts - Selected Letters
- G.F. Watts Portraits: Fame & Beauty in Victorian Society
- Collected Archives - T-Z
- The Watts Collection
- Watts handlist
- Room 26: Portraits by G.F. Watts
- Only Connect
- Only Connect - installation video
- Room 26: G.F. Watts Bicentenary
- Princes of Victorian Bohemia: Photographs by David Wilkie Wynfield
- Julia Margaret Cameron:
'Poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens'
- Victorian Portraits
- Portrait of the Day: Julie Margaret Cameron
15 December, 12:30
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer