Statesmen of World War I

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Statesmen of World War I

by Sir James Guthrie
oil on canvas, 1924-1930
156 in. x 132 in. (3962 mm x 3353 mm) overall
Given by Sir Abraham ('Abe') Bailey, 1st Bt, 1930
Primary Collection
NPG 2463

On display in Room 25 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Artistback to top

  • Sir James Guthrie (1859-1930), Painter. Artist or producer of 3 portraits, Sitter in 17 portraits.

Sittersback to top

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 3545: Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon (study)
  • NPG 3544: Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith (study)

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  • Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 49 Read entry

    A heroic interpretation of the contribution of imperial statesmen to winning the war. Guthrie studied Dutch commemorative groups such as Rembrandt’s The Night Watch in searching for the mood.

  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 90
  • Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 137
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 90 Read entry

    The Gallery’s archive has a number of photographs Guthrie had taken of himself to set up the poses; this exemplified his deep commitment to the project, as did his study tours to Holland and Spain. The influence of Dutch militia company group portraits, such as those by Frans Hals, and the aristocratic grandeur of Velasquez, can be discerned.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 716

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Events of 1924back to top

Current affairs

After narrowly winning the general election the previous year, Stanley Baldwin calls a vote of confidence at the opening of the new session of Parliament and is defeated. George V invited James Ramsay Macdonald to form a minority Labour government, making him the first Labour Prime Minister.

Art and science

Eric Liddell wins the gold medal at the Olympic games, breaking the record for running the 400 metres in 47.6 seconds. The distance was not in fact his strongest event, but he refused to run the 100 metres because the heats were held on the Sabbath. His story is told in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire.


After three strokes and several years of illness Lenin dies. Three days later the city of Petrograd is renamed Leningrad in his honour. On coming to power Stalin began the policy of 'socialism in one country' abandoning the traditional hope for international proletarian revolution in order to strengthen Russia internally and independently.

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