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George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (née Evans))

1 portrait matching these criteria:

- npg number matching '1405'

George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (née Evans)), replica by François D'Albert Durade, 1849-1886, based on a work of 1849 - NPG 1405 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (née Evans))

replica by François D'Albert Durade
oil on canvas, 1849-1886, based on a work of 1849
13 1/2 in. x 10 1/2 in. (343 mm x 267 mm)
Purchased, 1905
Primary Collection
NPG 1405

On display in Room 25 at the National Portrait Gallery

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One of the greatest Victorian Novelists, recognised as such in her lifetime. Known by her pen name, Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans. She was celebrated as both a moralist and a realist. In her personal life, she challenged Victorian social conventions by living with the writer and critic George Henry Lewes who was separated, but not divorced, from his wife. In 1880 she married the banker John Cross, who was twenty years her junior.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Audio Guide
  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 59 Read entry

    The novelist George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Cross, 1819-80) is one of the greats of nineteenth-century English literature. She wrote of herself: ‘I have turned out to be an artist – with words.’ The author of many acclaimed works, starting with Adam Bede (1859), her masterpiece is Middlemarch (1871-2), subtitled A Study of Provincial Life. Her novels are mostly about rural provincial life and feature weavers, millers’ daughters and carpenters (of which her father was one). An intellectual and a famed literary stylist, thinker and observer, she earned her living from a career in writing that began at the Westminster Review. Her literary circle included the philosopher and critic G.H. Lewes, with whom she lived until his death in 1878, after which she married John Cross. In her own name she worked as an editor and critic, and although she published her novels under a male pseudonym, she nonetheless challenged the masculine bias of her world. She did things her way, regardless of the opprobrium this attracted, especially of her personal life.

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 198
  • Various, William Morris: Words & Wisdom, 2014 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 16 October 2014 - 11 January 2015)

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Events of 1849back to top

Current affairs

Benjamin Disraeli becomes Conservative leader in the House of Commons.
Bedford College for Women is founded, following on from the foundation of Queen's College for Women the previous year.
Henry Mayhew, the social researcher and reform advocate, begins publishing his extensive statistical survey into the living conditions of urban communities, London Labour and the London Poor in the Morning Chronicle.

Art and science

With the death of his father Johann Strauss the Elder, Johann Baptist Strauss, the Austrian violinist and composer combines his and his father's orchestra, becoming known as 'the Waltz King'. His famous waltzes include The Blue Danube (1867). Dante Gabriel Rossetti paints his sister, the poet Christina, in The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.


Rome is briefly proclaimed a republic after the papal states are overthrown by Italian republicans. Napoleon's dependency on French Catholics leads him however to help restore papal authority. The restoration of Austrian military rule in Italy further darkens hopes of a self-ruling Italian nationhood.
Communist riots are suppressed in Paris.

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