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

George Meredith

Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

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

Make a donation Close
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

George Meredith

by Theodore Spicer-Simson
bronze medallion, 1908
4 1/2 in. (114 mm) diameter
Purchased through Roger Fry, 1910
Primary Collection
NPG 1583

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This medal, the first of many by Theodore Spicer-Simpson to enter the Gallery's collection, was purchased from him for 5 guineas in 1910 with encouragement from Roger Fry, then Editor of the Burlington Magazine. Meredith was reluctant to provide sittings for this medallion and agreed only after seeing a sketch for the design, with the assurance that it would not be produced in large numbers. The result is this delicate profile in shallow relief. Spicer-Simson is credited for continuing the tradition of cast medal-making into the twentieth century. He exploits this technique here, in order to depict individual facial hairs and evoke the very texture of the sitter's skin. He recalled the origins of this medal in his reminiscences, A Collector of Characters (posthumously published, 1962): 'Christmastime brought us to England in 1908. While there the Society of Authors requested me to do the portrait of George Meredith. He refused to sit.… I then asked Meredith's daughter, Mrs Sturgis. She said there might be only one way of succeeding, which would be to 'spring it on Father.' So she invited me to lunch at her home near Box Hill and after the meal we drove over in a carriage and pair.… Then Mrs Sturgis told her father he should sit for me. I said, 'Mr Meredith, I have prepared something. If you do not like it, I will destroy it before your eyes. Otherwise I hope you will sit.' After looking at the sketch and learning that it would not be produced by the hundreds, he consented. We parted good friends.'

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1908back to top

Current affairs

Henry Asquith replaces Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, with David Lloyd George taking control of the Exchequer. Asquith and Lloyd George embark on a bold programme of social reform, laying the foundations of the Welfare State, introducing government pensions this year and later a system of National Insurance.
The first aeroplane for the British army is built by the American, Samuel Cody.

Art and science

E.M. Forster's novel A Room with a View is published, following the experiences of a young woman, Lucy Honeychurch, in the repressed culture of Edwardian England.
The French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first uses the term 'cubism' to refer to a landscape painting by Georges Braque.


King Carlos of Portugal and his heir, Prince Luis Filipe, are killed by assassins from the Republican trying to provoke a revolution. Carlos I, unpopular because of his extravagant lifestyle and extramarital affairs, was succeeded by his younger son, Manuel, the last monarch of the Braganza dynasty.
Following the death of the Guangxu Emperor in China, his two year old nephew replaces him, becoming the the last Manchu emperor of China.

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.