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Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

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Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, and Frederick Goodall
oil on canvas, 1890
55 in. x 43 in. (1397 mm x 1092 mm)
Given by Pantaleone Constantine ('Pandeli') Ralli, 1916
Primary Collection
NPG 1782


There can be no more marked contrast between…

Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Frederick Goodall (1822-1904), Painter. Artist associated with 4 portraits, Sitter in 12 portraits.
  • Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), Painter and illustrator. Artist associated with 51 portraits, Sitter in 11 portraits.

This portraitback to top

In this portrait, Kitchener wears the drill khakis of a Colonel of the Royal Engineers, standing before Cairo.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D48919: Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

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  • Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 57 Read entry

    Horatrio Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) was the epitome of the Victorian imperialist general. He led the unsuccessful expedition to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum, and subsequently commanded armies in Egypt and the Sudan. His reputation was later enhanced by his victories during the Boer War. Kitchener made the transition from active command in the field to military administration with great aplomb. It was he who was chiefly responsible for converting the small British army into a military machine of three million men during the early years of the First World War, and is remembered for his slogan ‘Your country needs you’. This portrait by Herkomer and Goodall was painted shortly before he was made Sirdar (Commander-in-Chief) of the Egyptian army. It shows Kitchener, wearing the drill khakis of a Colonel of the Royal Engineers, standing before Cairo.

  • Redford, Bruce, John Singer Sargent and the art of allusion, 2016, p. 25
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 356
  • 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. 108, 177 Read entry

    Gilt oak, mitred, the main hollow, the back hollow and the planted reeded top edge in solid oak, the back frame in pine with carrying hand holes, oil gilding direct onto the oak allowing the grain of the oak to show through, the oak apparently sealed with a warm-toned size. 6 1⁄ 4 inches wide plus 1 1⁄ 2 inch slip.

    The Bavarian-born painter Hubert von Herkomer, son of a woodcarver, spent almost all his life in England, achieving great esteem as a graphic artist, subject painter and portraitist. It is not uncommon to find a successful portrait painter using more than one frame style but there can be no more marked contrast than between the two portrait frame types chosen by Herkomer: the one a massive unadorned scoop frame in solid oak with reeded top edge and sight edge, used by the artist with slight variations from 1887 to 1902, and the other a much lighter and narrower compo frame which has as its chief ornament a cushion decorated with large twisting leaves, without corner motifs, a style found on Herkomer's portraits from 1903 to 1913.

    In 1885 Herkomer brought back from the USA plans for a monumental new house, Lululand, which was constructed on a site near Bushey in Hertfordshire with special fittings produced by his wood-carving relatives. His solid oak frames may have been influenced by his American experience and in any case are consistent with his interest in using the finest timbers. In addition to this portrait of Kitchener of 1890, the National Portrait Gallery owns seven other portraits by Herkomer framed in this style. The Gallery owns two works framed in the later cushion style, the portrait of Lord Baden-Powell, with a metal-leaf finish (NPG 5991), and that of Admiral Lord Fisher of 1911, a gilt frame with surmounting coronet.

    The limited evidence as to Herkomer's framemaker suggests that like Alma-Tadema (see NPG 6213) he used R. Dolman & Son to frame some of his pictures, including The Last Muster: Sunday at the Royal Hospital Chelsea of 1875 (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight) and the portrait of Sir George Goldie of 1898 (National Portrait Gallery). On the latter the label in red reads: 'This frame can be repeated at any time quoting the number 30.886 R. Dolman & Co. 6 New Compton St, Soho London W.C.'

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: Egypt (Cairo)

Events of 1890back to top

Current affairs

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, publishes In Darkest England, in which he compares the supposedly 'civilised' England with 'Darkest Africa'. A critique of the degenerate state of society, Booth also proposed social welfare schemes to alleviate the sufferings of the urban poor.
The world's first electric underground railway opens to the public in London, passing under the Thames and linking the City of London and Stockwell.

Art and science

William Morris founds the Kelmscott Press, a revival of art and craft techniques of book printing. Publications included The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1896), with decorative designs and typeface by Morris and illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones.
Vincent Van Gogh dies after shooting himself in the chest in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray first appears in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine .


Cecil Rhodes, organiser of the diamond-mining De Beers Consolidated Mines, becomes premier of Cape Colony as part of his expansionist aims in South Africa.
In Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II dismisses Otto von Bismarck.
An international anti-slavery conference is held in Brussels, leading to the signing of a treaty by all the major maritime nations covering action to be taken against the trade in Africa and suppression of it by sea.

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