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Charles John Canning, Earl Canning

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Charles John Canning, Earl Canning

by Richard Beard
ninth plate daguerreotype, 1840s
2 in. x 1 1/4 in. (51 mm x 32 mm)
Purchased, 1979
Primary Collection
NPG P119

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Richard Beard (1801-1885), Photographer. Artist associated with 10 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Statesman; son of George Canning; appointed Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs by Peel, 1841; became Governor-General of India, 1856, maintaining a firm position during the Indian Mutiny and the transfer of power from the East India Company to the Crown; became first Viceroy, 1858. The daguerreotype bears Beard's imprint on the bottom left of the gilt slip. Beard, a coal merchant from Blackfriars, set up the world's first photographic portrait studio in March 1841.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 19 Read entry

    A son of the great statesman George Canning, Charles Canning entered politics in his twenties, and rose rapidly. In 1841 Sir Robert Peel appointed him Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and this daguerreotype was probably taken in London shortly after that date. A controversial Governor-General of India (1856), he steered the subcontinent through the crisis of the Indian Mutiny, and in 1858, following the transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown, became the first Viceroy. He was created an earl in the following year.

    Richard Beard, a coal merchant from Blackfriars, London, set up in photography as a business speculation. He purchased a licence to use the daguerreotype process in March 1841, and opened the world’s first photographic portrait studio. There were huge profits from his studios in London and Liverpool and from the sale of licences to take daugerrotypes, but Beard was ruined by his many legal actions against rivals, above all Claudet, and went bankrupt in 1850.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 100

Events of 1840back to top

Current affairs

Victoria marries her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; he is given the title of Prince Consort.
The Penny Black stamp is introduced by Rowland Hill; the first pre-paid, self-adhesive stamp, it marks the start of the modern postal system.
The start of the Irish potato famine, which by the time of its peak in 1851, had caused the deaths of one million, and contributed to the sharp rise of emigration from Ireland to England and America.

Art and science

Beau Brummel, the fashion leader responsible for sparking the culture of 'Dandyism', dies of syphilis.
The first stone is laid on the new Houses of Parliament, based on the gothic designs by the architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The old buildings had burned down in 1834, following a blaze caused by burning wooden tallies used by the Exchequer to calculate tax.


The Afghans surrender to Britain during the Afghan-British war (1839-42). The war was sparked by British fear over Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the British East India Company resolving to depose the Afghan leader, Dost Muhammad, who was insistent on Afghan independence, and restore the former leader Shoja Shah.
The Maoris yield sovereignty of New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi.

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