attributed to Charles Mercier
oil on canvas, circa 1870
43 1/4 in. x 55 1/4 in. (1099 mm x 1403 mm)
Given by T. Chatto, 1929
This portraitback to top
Author of It is Never Too Late to Mend (1856) and The Cloister and the Hearth (1861), Reade was one of the most popular of all Victorian novelists and dramatists. He lived with his mistress, the actress Laura Seymour, for nearly thirty years and to avoid scandal she was said to be his housekeeper and hostess. In this portrait Reade is shown in his 'workshop' overlooking Hyde Park at their home at 2 Albert Terrace, Knightsbridge. He spent at least one hour every afternoon in his workshop filling ledgers with notes or with cuttings which interested him. A cat with two kittens dozes on one of these books and Puff, the white German spitz which belonged to Seymour, waits to be taken out for a walk.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Gibson, Robin, The Face in the Corner: Animal Portraits from the Collections of the National Portrait Gallery, 1998, p. 58
- Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 93
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 514
Placesback to top
- Place portrayed: United Kingdom: England, London (sitter's home, Albert Terrace, London)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1870back to top
Current affairsWilliam Edward Forster's Education Act is passed, making provisions for education for all under-13s. It demonstrated the balance in Gladstone's first ministry between progressive reform and conservativism by spreading literacy, whilst maintaining the status of Church schools.
The Married Women's Property Act gives wives rights over their own earnings.
Art and scienceThe Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare's play and written with the aid of composer Mily Balakirev, debuts in Moscow, conducted by Nikolai Rubenstein.
W. G. Grace becomes cricket captain of Gloucestershire, marking the start of a successful decade for the club in which they won three 'Champion County' titles.
InternationalIsaac Butt, an Irish MP at Westminster, forms the Home Rule Association.
The Franco-Prussian war breaks out between France and a coalition of German states led by Prussia. Provoked by the candidacy of German Prince Leopold Hohenzollen-Sigmaringen for the Spanish throne, France declared war in July after Bismark published the deliberately provocative Ems telegraph, in which the French were represented in an offensive light on the issue.