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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

8 of 640 portraits of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

by Sir Thomas Lawrence
chalk on canvas, circa 1820
25 in. x 20 1/2 in. (635 mm x 521 mm)
Purchased, 1969
Primary Collection
NPG 4670

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Portrait painter, collector and President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 689 portraits, Sitter in 25 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Lawrence first painted Wellington in 1814 after the duke returned to Britain as the victor of the Peninsular War. The artist created the confident, well-groomed international hero gazing steadfastly out of a series of memorable canvases. This drawing was probably made to be kept in Lawrence's studio as a reminder, or intended as a present, or even made for subsequent copying as an engraving. This explanation is more likely than the claim made by a previous owner, in a label stuck on the back of the frame, that it was a preparatory sketch for a portrait. The ducal coronet on the frame may be carved from the elm tree which stood at Mont-Saint-Jean, Wellington's command post at the battle of Waterloo.

Linked publicationsback to top

Subject/Themeback to top

Events of 1820back to top

Current affairs

George III dies at Windsor Castle on 29 January and George IV ascends to the throne.
'Trial of Queen Caroline' in the House of Lords; Parliament drops the Bill which was to legitimise a divorce between Caroline and George IV.
Cato Street Conspiracy to assassinate the cabinet discovered. Arthur Thistlewood and fellow conspirators are hung.

Art and science

Sir Thomas Lawrence becomes President of the Royal Academy.
Astronomical Society is set up by John Herschel and Charles Babbage.
First iron steamship is launched.

International

Actor, Edmund Kean goes on a successful tour of America after making his name at the Drury Lane Theatre.
Revolutions begin in Spain, Portugal and Naples.
The famous ancient Greek statue of the Venus de Milo is rediscovered on the Island of Melos and purchased by the Louvre in Paris.

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