William Rathbone

Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Rathbone

by Charles John Allen
bronze medallion, 1899
5 7/8 in. (149 mm) diameter
Given by the artist's family, 1957
Primary Collection
NPG 4018

Sitterback to top

  • William Rathbone (1819-1902), Merchant and philanthropist; pioneer organiser of nursing services. Sitter in 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Charles John Allen produced several prize medals for University College Liverpool. The William Rathbone Medal For Engineering was awarded to a candidate of special distinction for the degree of Bachelor of Engineering. The portrait celebrates the 80th birthday of William Rathbone, one of the college's founders. The reverse depicts two students, one seated with a book, the other standing with a theodolite. It features the university's coat of arms and motto, 'HAEC OTIA STUDIA FOVENT' (These days of peace foster learning). The medal is exceptionally heavy. The Gallery's example was not awarded as a prize but remained with the artist's family until presented in 1957.

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Events of 1899back to top

Current affairs

George Nathaniel Curzon, Lord Curzon, is appointed Viceroy of India, pursuing a mixed policy of forceful control and conciliation. Curzon's inquiries into Indian administration result in legislation in areas including education, irrigation, and policing. The Board of Education is created to co-ordinate the work of higher grade elementary schools, county technical schools and endowed grammar schools, also setting up a register of teachers.

Art and science

The Italian Guglielmo Marconi transmits the first wireless telegraph, between France and England across the English Channel, a distance of 32 miles. Marconi's production of waves over long distances lays the foundations for the development of the radio. Later this year, Marconi demonstrates his invention in America, at the Cup yacht race, and for the American navy.


Outbreak of the second Boer war, fought between the British Empire and the two independent Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Despite a disastrous start, Britain quickly won the war, although guerilla warfare continued until 1902, leading to the introduction of concentration camps by British commander Lord Kitchener, a measure which contributes to the British public's growing disillusionment with the campaign.

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