Thomas Arnold

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas Arnold

by William Behnes
marble bust, 1849
30 in. (762 mm) high
Given by James Lee, 1864
Primary Collection
NPG 168

Sitterback to top

  • Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), Headmaster of Rugby School. Sitter in 5 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • William Behnes (1794-1864), Sculptor. Artist or producer associated with 31 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

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  • Foister, Susan, Cardinal Newman 1801-90, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 20 May 1990), p. 17 Read entry

    Thomas Arnold, perhaps best known as the reforming headmaster of Rugby School (1828-41) was between 1815 and 1828 one of the group of outstanding academics including Keble, Copleston, Whateley, Hawkins and Hampden who held Fellowships at Oriel College and contributed to its brilliant reputation in the early nineteenth century.

    In 1833, when controversy over the status of the Church of England was at its height, Arnold published his pamphlet, The Principles of Church Reform, in which he advocated the admission of all dissenters to the Church of England. A vigorous opponent of the Oxford Movement, he regarded the Tractarians as a greater danger to the Church than Roman Catholicism, and was a supporter of Hampden's professorship, which Newman opposed.

    Arnold returned to Oxford in 1841, when he was appointed Regius Professor of History. Newman, while deploring Arnold's views, which were diametrically opposed to his own, was an admirer of his work at Rugby, and, on his death in 1842, commended him 'as having done a work, when they [i.e. Whateley, Hawkins etc.] are merely talkers'. (Ian Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford, 1988, pp 251-2).

    William Behnes's bust was executed posthumously.

  • Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 17
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 18

Subject/Themeback to top

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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