William Ewart Gladstone

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William Ewart Gladstone

by Carlo Pellegrini
watercolour, published in Vanity Fair 6 February 1869
11 7/8 in. x 7 in. (302 mm x 178 mm)
Given by an anonymous donor, 1923
Primary Collection
NPG 1978

Sitterback to top

  • William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), Prime Minister and writer; Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. Sitter associated with 321 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Carlo Pellegrini (1839-1889), 'Ape'; caricaturist. Artist or producer associated with 490 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Published in Vanity Fair, 6 February 1869. The second cartoon to be published in Vanity Fair: the first was of Disraeli. They are the only two to be signed Singe by Pellegrini who subsequently adopted the Anglicised Ape.

Related worksback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Foister, Susan, Cardinal Newman 1801-90, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 20 May 1990), p. 69 Read entry

    Gladstone thought Newman's conversion to the Roman Catholic Church was the 'greatest disaster in the English Church since the Reformation'. The tide of conversions to Catholicism touched Gladstone's own family: his sister became a Catholic in 1842. Gladstone himself was constantly preoccupied with questions of religion and state: in 1845 he resigned from Peel's government over the question of Maynooth in Ireland. Gladstone actually agreed with this, but thought Peel was being inconsistent.

    In 1874, after his third period of office as Prime Minister, Gladstone published an essay in the Contemporary Review attacking the Roman Catholic Church, in particuarly, the rule that Catholics had to pledge allegiance to the Pope, whatever he might decree, (referring to Pius IX's proclamation on papal infallibility in 1870). Gladstone then issued his extremely widely-read pamphlet on papal infallibility The Vatican Decrees; among the replies was Newman's Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.

    This cartoon was published in the periodical Vanity Fair on 6 February 1869.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 248

Events of 1869back to top

Current affairs

Gladstone introduces the Irish Church Disestablishment Act, which disestablishes the Church of Ireland, disassociating it from the state and repealing the paying of tithes to the Anglican Church of Ireland.
Girton College is founded in Cambridge by Barbara Bodichon and Emily Davies, the first residential college for women in England; women were granted full membership to the University in 1948.

Art and science

Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev invents the periodic table of elements, which arranges elements within a group in order of their atomic mass.
The British scientist Mary Somerville publishes her last book On Molecular and Microscopic Science.
Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir paint together in the open air at La Grenouillère, developing the Impressionist style.


The Suez canal opens, linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea, and transforming trade routes between Europe and Asia as merchants no longer had to circumvent Africa. The canal was largely in British and French control until Egyptian nationalisation in 1956, which sparked off the international Suez crisis.
Serialisation of Leo Tolstoy's epic novel of Russian society during the Napoleonic wars, War and Peace finishes.

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