4 of 33 portraits of William Wilberforce
- Extended Catalogue Entry
by George Richmond
17 1/4 in. x 13 in. (438 mm x 330 mm)
Sitterback to top
- William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Philanthropist and reformer. Sitter associated with 33 portraits.
Artistback to top
- George Richmond (1809-1896), Portrait painter and draughtsman; son of Thomas Richmond. Artist associated with 325 portraits, Sitter in 14 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The son of a wealthy Hull merchant, William Wilberforce first entered Parliament in 1780. His conversion to evangelical Christianity five years later deflected him from an orthodox political career, and thereafter he devoted his life to prayer and meditation and to scrupulous attention to his duties in Parliament. He and his associates, known collectively as 'the Saints', had two objectives: the abolition of the slave trade and the reform of contemporary morals. His bill abolishing the slave trade in the British colonies finally became law in 180.
Wilberforce was obliged to wear a brace, or girdle, round his chest and this accounts for his somewhat contorted posture in this portrait. Richmond began the painting at Wilberforce's home on Battersea Rise, south London, in 1832. It was painted while Wilberforce's attention was diverted by the Rev. C. Forster's attempt to draw him into an argument on the subject of slavery.
Linked publicationsback to top
- The British Portrait, 1660-1960, 1991, p. 328 number 316
- Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 109
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 661
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 555
Placesback to top
- Place made and portrayed: United Kingdom: England, London (sitter's home, Battersea Rise, London)
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- William Hazlitt's Spirit of the Age (20 May 2003 - 2 November 2003)
Events of 1833back to top
Current affairsShaftesbury's Factory Act is passed regulating women's hours and providing for the education of children working in the textile industry.
Bank Act is passed, making Bank of England notes Britain's legal tender.
Art and scienceCharles Lamb publishes Last Essays of Elia after the enormous success of his earlier Essays. A comic allegorization of his humdrum clerical job they become one of the period's literary sensations.
Charles Dickens begins his series Sketches by Boz in the Monthly Magazine.