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John Newman

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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John Newman

by George Richmond
chalk, 1844
16 1/4 in. x 13 1/4 in. (413 mm x 337 mm)
Purchased, 1896
Primary Collection
NPG 1065

Sitterback to top

  • John Henry Newman (1801-1890), Cardinal, theologian and saint; canonised 2019. Sitter in 37 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Richmond (1809-1896), Portrait painter and draughtsman; son of Thomas Richmond. Artist or producer associated with 325 portraits, Sitter in 14 portraits.

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. 33 Read entry

    George Richmond was the first artist to whom Newman sat who was not a friend of the family, as Maria Giberne and Richard Westmacott were. The portrait was commissioned by Henry Wilberforce, Newman's great friend, whom he had tutored at Oriel. In 1838 Richmond painted a watercolour portrait of Henry Wilberforce's father, the reformer William Wilberforce (NPG 4997); more than ten years later, in 1844, Richmond's reputation as a society portraitist was well established. Many of his portraits were head-and-shoulders drawings in chalks, and Wilberforce told Newman 'it is not a finished painting that I want, but a crayon sketch on tinted paper like that he has taken of Manning'. (Letter of 5 July 1844, quoted by Henry Tristram, Newman and his Portraits, unpublished typescript (Birmingham Oratory))

    Newman had four sittings that July (Richmond had envisaged only two) and Wilberforce received a drawing in early August for his approval. Wilberforce commented on the drawing sent in 1844: 'I cannot say how much I like and value it. I almost expect to hear your voice at times, and the same is the feeling of others. The likeness is no doubt diminished by not having your glasses, which seem to me almost a necessary part of you - still I think Richmond has judged rightly here ...'. (Letter, quoted by Henry Tristram, Newman and his Portraits, unpublished typescript (Birmingham Oratory)) The drawing cost £21, according to Richmond's sitters' book (photostat in National Portrait Gallery Archive). NPG 1065 is a study for the more finished drawing at Oriel College, Oxford (Mrs R. L. Lane Poole, Portraits in Oxford Colleges, Oxford, II, p 101). A sitting with Richmond apparently recorded in Newman's diary on 21 June 1845 (quoted by Henry Tristram, Newman and his Portraits, unpublished typescript (Birmingham Oratory)) cannot related to NPG 1065 and remains mysterious. The Oriel portrait was engraved in 1856 by H. Maclean, who altered Newman's stock to an Oratorian collar.

  • Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 339
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 457

Subject/Themeback to top

Events of 1844back to top

Current affairs

Britain experiences a railway boom. Peel's government passes a series of Acts creating provision of cheap, regular rail services. George Hudson, the first great railway entrepreneur, who controlled over 1,000 miles of railway track and whose enterprises made York a major commercial and transport hub, becomes known as 'the Railway King'.

Art and science

Disraeli's Coningsby is published. The first of his 1840s 'Young England' trilogy, it was the cultural manifesto of Disraeli's vision for a new Conservativism.
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson set up their innovative and pioneering photography studio in Edinburgh, capturing portraits of both Scottish society figures and workers, as well as urban and rural landscape scenes.


Tensions continue to mount in Eastern Europe over Russian imperialist ambitions, as Tsar Nicholas I describes the Ottoman Empire as 'the Sick Man of Europe'.
With the overthrow of the Haitians, the Spanish-speaking portion of the island of Hispaniola gains independence, as the Dominican Republic.

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