Herbert Spencer

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

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

Buy a print Buy a greetings card Make a donation Close

Herbert Spencer

by Sir Francis Carruthers Gould ('F.C.G.')
watercolour, published in Vanity Fair 26 April 1879
12 in. x 7 7/8 in. (305 mm x 200 mm)
Purchased, 1933
Primary Collection
NPG 2601

Sitterback to top

  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), Philosopher, social theorist and sociologist. Sitter in 22 portraits.

Artistback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1879back to top

Current affairs

Women's education continues to grow, with the founding of women's colleges in Oxford. Somerville College took its name from the late Scottish scientific writer Mary Somerville. Lady Margaret Hall was founded by Elizabeth Wordsworth, great niece of the poet, and named after Margaret Beaufort, a medieval noblewoman and mother of Henry VII.

Art and science

Edison invents the first practical electric light bulb.
The first prehistoric paintings, dating back 14,000 years, are discovered in the Altamira caves in Northern Spain when a young girl notices paintings of bison on the ceilings.
The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, already acclaimed for roles in plays such as Racine's Phèdre and Victor Hugo's Hernani, celebrates a successful season at London's Gaiety Theatre.


Anglo-Zulu war fought between British forces and the Zulus, after disputes between the Boers and Zulu leader Cetshywayo over the Utrecht border attracted British intervention. The British victory marked the end of the independent Zulu nation, although the Zulu's initial victory at Isandhlwana was a major surprise. The Battle of Rorke's Drift was dramatised in the film Zulu, starring Michael Caine, in 1964.

Comments back to top

We are currently unable to accept new comments, but any past comments are available to read below.

If you need information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service . Please note that we cannot provide valuations. You can buy a print or greeting card of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at around £6 for unframed prints, £16 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Use this image button, or contact our Rights and Images service. We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

Alison Young

10 September 2018, 17:25

I have been researching the life of Alfred Bryan (r.n. Charles Grimeau) and in doing so came across a letter in 'The Entr'acte' 27 May 1899 about a drawing of Mr Herbert Spencer submitted by Alfred Bryan, signed 'C.G.'to Vanity Fair in 1878. The upshot of the letter (from a William H Combes) is that Bryan was too modest to declare that this was his work, 'and to this day the public and the proprietors of Vanity Fair themselves are not aware that the Herbert Spencer cartoon was the work of Alfred Bryan.'
On reading this I googled 'Mr Herbert Spencer, Vanity Fair' and found your image with the attribution to Carruthers Gould (FCG). Having looked at FCG's signature initials, I note that the 'CG' is different and possibly is by the hand of Alfred Bryan/Charles Grimeau. I can send the extract from The Entr'acte.