The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Elizabeth Fry

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Elizabeth Fry

by Samuel Drummond
watercolour on ivory, circa 1815
4 1/2 in. x 3 1/4 in. (114 mm x 83 mm)
Purchased, 1861
Primary Collection
NPG 118

Sitterback to top

  • Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), Quaker minister and social reformer. Sitter in 8 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Samuel Drummond (1765-1844), Portrait and history painter. Artist associated with 58 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Fry's Quaker upbringing and beliefs (represented by her distinctive bonnet), were manifested in her interest in women's prison reforms. The bars of Newgate prison are shown in the background of
this miniature. Her informed but compassionate stance resulted in more humanitarian treatment of women prisoners. In this portrait, Fry is shown as if pausing during one of her weekly Bible readings at Newgate prison.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 48 Read entry

    Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) was a social reformer and Quaker minister whose work led to dramatic improvements in prison conditions, and many of whose ideas resulted in changes to legislation. She was inspired to become an activist for prison reform after visiting London’s Newgate prison in 1813 and witnessing the dire living conditions of the female inmates and their children there. At a time when women rarely led such campaigns, she was the first of her sex to fight for penal reform, highlighting prisoners’ humanitarian needs and prison’s rehabilitative potential over society’s demand for punishment and retribution. In 1818 she was the first woman to present evidence in Parliament, to a committee on British prison conditions, having helped to form the Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate the previous year. In 1821, Fry formed the British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners, one of Britain’s first women’s organisations. She would also establish homeless hostels and charitable societies, founding the Institute of Nursing Sisters in London, a training school for nurses, in 1840. Florence Nightingale took a team of Fry’s nurses to the Crimea. This miniature shows Fry giving a Bible reading to prisoners.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 233
  • Walker, Richard, Miniatures: 300 Years of the English Miniature, 1998, p. 103 Read entry

    Dr Beddoes's sister-in-law, Maria Edgeworth spoke of Elizabeth Fry's 'Guido Madonna countenance'. Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker renowned for her work in prison reform, certainly had much of the saintliness exuded by Guido Reni's madonnas. Many a hardened criminal in Newgate prison succumbed to her impressive Bible readings. This portrait by Samuel Drummond shows her wearing her Quaker bonnet and white blouse. it was an early miniature acquisition, bought by the Gallery in 1861.

  • Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 193

Placesback to top

Events of 1815back to top

Current affairs

John and James Leigh Hunt are released from prison after a two year sentence for slandering the Prince of Wales in their outspoken, radical periodical the Examiner.
Corn Laws are introduced to protect against the collapse in prices which would inevitably follow peace with France, prompting riots in London.

Art and science

Humphry Davy invents the miners' safety lamp though its reception is clouded by William Clanny and George Stephenson who present rival models in the same year.
British Institution arranges first in innovative series of Old Master exhibitions
provoking virulent attack on its patrons for neglecting contemporary art.


Napoleon returns to France from exile in Elba and resumes power until his abdication on 22 June; a period known as the 'Hundred Days'.
Battle of Waterloo concludes the Anglo-French struggle that had lasted more than a century. Peace of Vienna establishes Britain's global political, economic and imperial dominance which lasts for the next hundred years.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.


Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

Start now