The Opening of the Royal Albert Infirmary at Bishop's Waltham, 1865

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

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The Opening of the Royal Albert Infirmary at Bishop's Waltham, 1865

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1865
33 in. x 45 in. (838 mm x 1143 mm)
Purchased, 1940
Primary Collection
NPG 3083

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  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6578 portraits.

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This portrait commemorates the opening of the Royal Albert Infirmary at Bishop's Waltham in Hampshire in November 1865. The three figures seated in the centre are Prince Arthur, Princess Helena and Princess Louisa, three of the nine children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. At the opening a statue of Prince Albert, who had died in 1861, was unveiled. The portrait depicts the sitters in the old abbey barn which was decorated as a concert-room for the occasion. In addition to the music, the leading actress Helena Faucit (later Martin) read scenes from The Merchant of Venice. Tickets were sold to the performance in order to raise funds for the infirmary.

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Current affairs

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson is the first female to be awarded a doctor's licence. She is also involved in collecting signatures for the Manchester Suffrage Committee, the first suffrage organisation, formed this year. John Stuart Mill was also elected to parliament this year on the platform of women's suffrage.
Palmerston dies in October, and is replaced as leader of the Liberal government by his Foreign Secretary, Lord Russell.

Art and science

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is published, inspired by Carroll's relationship (as Oxford don Charles Dodgson) with his friend Henry George Liddell's daughter Alice.
Matthew Arnold publishes the first series of Essays in Criticism, a defining text in the development of English literature as an academic discipline.


In the American civil war, Robert E. Lee surrenders the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, leading to the surrender of the Confederacy's remaining field armies. A few days later, US President Abraham Lincoln is shot dead by Confederate sympathiser John Wilkes Booth. Later this year slavery is officially abolished after years of fierce campaigning. In response, the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan is founded on Christmas Eve.

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