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Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

13 of 110 portraits of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, by Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt, 1881 - NPG 3241 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield

by Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Bt
oil on canvas, 1881
50 1/4 in. x 36 5/8 in. (1276 mm x 931 mm)
Given by William Henry Smith, 3rd Viscount Hambleden, 1945
Primary Collection
NPG 3241

On display at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait of the great Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is the quintessence of Victorian portraiture: concentrating on the essentials of facial expression, dignifying the sitter and indicating his contribution to politics and national life. Originally Lord Ronald Gower had wanted Disraeli to sit to Millais, so that the portrait could be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. In 1881, Millais wrote to Disraeli pleading, 'I know that sitting to an Artist is attended with great inconvenience to Every public man, but I do hope you will allow me to make a portrait of your Lordship.' Disraeli replied, 'I am a very bad sitter, but will not easily forego my chance of being known to posterity by your illustrious pencil.' Millais was prevented from receiving more than three sittings, however, by Disraeli's fatal illness. Nevertheless, the portrait was finished and, at the request of the Queen, sent in late to the Royal Academy where it was displayed on a special screen.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 925: Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (source portrait)
  • NPG D21543: Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1881back to top

Current affairs

Benjamin Disraeli dies of bronchitis. He refuses a state funeral and is buried next to his wife, Mary Ann Viscountess Beaconsfield.
Gladstone's Irish Land Act is passed in a bid to stop violence carried out by the republican Land League, conducted in protest at the 1870 Land Act.
Henry Mayers Hyndman forms the Marxist Democratic Federation.

Art and science

The Natural History Museum is opened on Exhibition Road, South Kensington. The museum, a landmark gothic design by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, was built to house specimens from the natural sciences, previously in the British Museum's collection. Today, the museum comprises of over 70 million items, and is a world-renowned research centre.


Alexander II is assassinated in a bomb attack by members of a left-wing revolutionary movement. He was succeeded by his son, Tsar Alexander III.
US President James Garfield is shot by Charles Guiteau.
The first Anglo-Boer war ends. The war is started by a Boer uprising, as the British had annexed the Transvaal in 1877. Following Britain's defeat at the Battle of Majuba Hill, a truce is signed giving the Boers self-government and later independence.

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24 May 2017, 15:18

When researching this portrait, whilst at Reading University. I found that Disreali only managed to attend 2-3 of his sittings for this portait, resulting in the completion of just the face. Millais in his need to complete the painting used an artist model whom had a similar build to Disraeli, thus making me conclude that the figure presented here in the majority is infact another(for the figures body,arms and the back of the head). I also found that the model used was the same individual that Millais also used to complete the portrait of Gladstone(possitioned next to it in the gallery) and later also being used in some of lord leightons' works. His name being Alfonzo Manzi.

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