Hugh Culling Eardley Childers

1 portrait by Emily Maria Eardley ('Milly') Childers

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hugh Culling Eardley Childers

by Emily Maria Eardley ('Milly') Childers
oil on canvas, 1891
35 1/2 in. x 27 1/2 in. (902 mm x 699 mm)
Given by the sitter's son, Charles Edward Eardley Childers, 1911
Primary Collection
NPG 1631


This portrait of the artist's father, Hugh Ch…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Painted by the sitter's daughter shortly before her father retired from public life. In the following years the pair travelled together through England and France.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 122
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 116, 180 Read entry

    Gilt compo on pine, standard Watts frame construction, oil gilt except for matt water gilding on some plain areas. 6 1⁄ 4 inches wide. With the label: FRANCIS DRAPER, 67 PARK ST GROSVENOR SQE.

    The portrait painter, Milly Childers, daughter of Hugh Childers, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Gladstone's cabinet in the 1880s, worked mainly for patrons in her father's political circle. When this portrait of her father was first photographed by Emery Walker, before the addition of the signature and date, it was in a plain rough deal frame. Subsequently it was reframed temporarily, perhaps to send it to the National Portrait Gallery, and the artist then wrote to the Gallery's Director on 4 January 1912, with proposals for a permanent frame. But the Director, Charles Holmes, replied two days later, 'we had decided that a "Watts" pattern was the only one which would enable the portrait to be hung here harmoniously with the other pictures of the same period. If a portrait has an exceptional frame we find the greatest difficulty in making it suit the various positions which ... the pictures here have to take from time to time. Your friends work is exceedingly attractive but ...').1

    The Watts frame was made by Francis Draper, whose label is still on the frame, and billed on 20 May 1912 at a cost of £4.8s. The picture still retains its original picture tablet in a gilt lead holder. Interestingly, the husks of the sight edge of the frame run in one direction and do not reverse at the centres as normal.

    1 National Portrait Gallery, Press Copy Book, vol.XXX, p 192.

Events of 1891back to top

Current affairs

The Irish Nationalist leader Charles Parnell is forced to resign after being named in the divorce proceedings brought by William O'Shea against his wife Kitty, who had been Parnell's mistress for a decade. The scandal severely damages the campaign for the Home Rule Bill, contributing greatly to its subsequent failure. Parnell's health also suffered; he contracted rheumatic fever and died a few months after resigning.

Art and science

Thomas Hardy's publishes Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a tragedy which explores the consequences of the young Tess's seduction by the wealthy Alec D'Urberville. In the novel, Hardy sets forward his major concerns about the individual's powerlessness before fate, whilst radically critiquing the hypocritical double standards of contemporary morals.


The construction of Trans-Siberian railway, the longest single rail system in Russia, begins in the Urals and at Vladivostock. Running between Moscow and Vladivostock, work was completed in 1917.
The German aviation pioneer Otto Lilenthal takes off in the first glider from a hill near Potsdam, the first of many guided flights and an important step in the development of aerial technology.

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