Lord Byron

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lord Byron

by Richard Westall
oil on canvas, 1813
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Purchased, 1961
Primary Collection
NPG 4243

On display in Room 17 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Richard Westall (1765-1836), History painter. Artist or producer associated with 14 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The artist Richard Westall was employed by Byron’s publisher John Murray to illustrate Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. On 21 April 1813 Byron wrote to Murray that: 'I shall be in town on Sunday next & will call & have some conversation on the subject of Westall's proposed designs. - I am to sit to him for a picture at the request of a friend of mine'. The sitting resulted in this suitably dashing and romantic portrait. The friend who commissioned it was probably the radical MP Sir Francis Burdett.

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Current affairs

Machine breaking Luddite Riots end with seventeen executions in York. Radical John Cartwright's subsequent tour of the manufacturing districts has some success in quelling Luddite discontent with the foundation of the Hampden reform club network across the country.
East India Company is deprived of monopoly over trade with India.

Art and science

Millenarian prophet Joanna Southcott, made famous by her visions of the second coming of Christ, announces herself 'with child' by the Holy Ghost.
Jane Austen publishes Pride and Prejudice.


Victorious Battle of St Pierre near Bayonne led by General Rowland Hill.
Battle of Leipzig ends in defeat for Napoleon.
Wellington's victory at Vittoria leads to British invasion of Southern France.
Americans capture and burn Toronto, defeat British in Battle of Lake Erie and recapture Detroit.

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05 October 2022, 00:15

According to Peter Cochran, the friend who asked Byron to sit for Westall was not Francis Burnett, but Lady Oxford. See p.17 n.67 of his online edition of Byron and Murray’s correspondence: https://petercochran.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/byron-and-murray-1811-18162.pdf
The Lady Oxford letter he mentioned can be found on the same website, p.9-10 of Byron’s 1813 correspondence: https://petercochran.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/04-london-181310.pdf

Elena Dmitrieva

26 September 2018, 08:45

Lord Byron is depicted here with the roman-style 19th century onyx cameo of Leander swimming across the Hellespont towards Hero, who watches him from a tower, now in private collection. There is an inscription on the back of this cameo: "May 3, 1810"