Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
- Extended Catalogue Entry
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
by Richard Rothwell
oil on canvas, exhibited 1840
29 in. x 24 in. (737 mm x 610 mm)
Bequeathed by the sitter's daughter-in-law, Jane, Lady Shelley, 1899
Sitterback to top
- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851), Novelist; wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Sitter associated with 3 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Richard Rothwell (1800-1868), Painter. Artist associated with 11 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
Mary Shelley, the daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, eloped with Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1814 and became his second wife in 1816. Her Frankenstein of 1818, written at Lord Byron's suggestion, is one of the finest examples of the Gothic novel in English. The papier-mâché frame to this portrait is by C.F. Bielefeld and was made by applying seven different types of ornament to a supporting wooden framework. It probably dates to the mid-nineteenth century, at which period the frames on the portraits of her parents were changed to match.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- 100 Pioneering Women, p. 56
- Eger, Elizabeth; Peltz, Lucy, Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings, 2008 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 March to 15 June 2008), p. 131
- Holmes, Richard, The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2013, p. 105
- Holmes, Richard, Insights: The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2005, p. 86
- Holmes, Richard; Crane, David; Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantics and Revolutionaries: Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 2002, p. 53
- Motion, Andrew (edited), Interrupted Lives: In Literature, 2004, p. 33
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 561
- Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 43, 169
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 447
- Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantic Icons, 1999, p. 95
Events of 1840back to top
Current affairsVictoria marries her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; he is given the title of Prince Consort.
The Penny Black stamp is introduced by Rowland Hill; the first pre-paid, self-adhesive stamp, it marks the start of the modern postal system.
The start of the Irish potato famine, which by the time of its peak in 1851, had caused the deaths of one million, and contributed to the sharp rise of emigration from Ireland to England and America.
Art and scienceBeau Brummel, the fashion leader responsible for sparking the culture of 'Dandyism', dies of syphilis.
The first stone is laid on the new Houses of Parliament, based on the gothic designs by the architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The old buildings had burned down in 1834, following a blaze caused by burning wooden tallies used by the Exchequer to calculate tax.
InternationalThe Afghans surrender to Britain during the Afghan-British war (1839-42). The war was sparked by British fear over Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the British East India Company resolving to depose the Afghan leader, Dost Muhammad, who was insistent on Afghan independence, and restore the former leader Shoja Shah.
The Maoris yield sovereignty of New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi.