William Charles Macready

William Charles Macready, by John Jackson, 1821 - NPG 1503 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Larger Image
  • Image zoom
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

William Charles Macready

by John Jackson
oil on canvas, 1821
36 in. x 24 1/4 in. (914 mm x 616 mm)
Bequeathed by William Charles Macready, 1908
Primary Collection
NPG 1503

Sitterback to top

  • William Charles Macready (1793-1873), Actor and theatre manager; son of William Macready. Sitter associated with 32 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Jackson (1778-1831), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 231 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

In 1810 Macready made his debut in Birmingham as Romeo and acted with his father's company in the provinces. He first appeared at Covent Garden in 1816, and, after his Richard III in 1819, was the leading actor in Britain until his retirement in 1851. In this portrait Macready is shown in the character of Shakespeare's Henry IV, which he played at Drury Lane on 25 June 1821, in celebration of the Coronation of George IV. The portrait was originally commissioned by Charles Mathews for his 'Gallery of Theatrical Notables', but in the event Macready kept it and a second version was painted for Mathews.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1821back to top

Current affairs

George IV is crowned at Westminster Abbey on 19 July and Queen Caroline is turned away from the ceremony. Two weeks later she dies reawakening popular sympathy for her cause. Riots break out at her funeral as the Government attempts to reroute the procession to avoid the popular reaction of the mob.

Art and science

Thomas De Quincey publishes Confessions of an English Opium Eater in the London Magazine. A creative commentary on his mental life, it gained instant notoriety.
The Manchester Guardian (later The Guardian) established.
Michael Faraday builds the first electric motor.


Napoleon dies.
Revolts in Wallachia and Moldovia against the oppressive rule of the Ottoman Turks. The rebels appeal to Tsar Alexander I for help and the Greek War of Independence begins.

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. 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.