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Derwent Coleridge; Mary Coleridge (née Pridham)

Derwent Coleridge; Mary Coleridge (née Pridham), by Unknown photographer, 1856 - NPG P322 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Derwent Coleridge; Mary Coleridge (née Pridham)

by Unknown photographer
collodion positive on glass, 1856
5 in. x 4 in. (127 mm x 102 mm)
Purchased, 1986
Primary Collection
NPG P322

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

The second son of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Derwent was educated with his brother Hartley at a small school near Ambleside, where Southey and Wordsworth watched over them. His later career was dedicated to education and the church, and he was the first principal of St Mark's College, Chelsea. He is seen in this ambrotype together with his wife Mary Pridham whom he married in 1827. Although the photographer is unknown, there is a placard on the table which appears to read 'Field Phot. Aug. 19 1856', a novel way of dating a photograph.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 37 Read entry

    The second son of the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Derwent was educated with his brother Hartley at a small school near Ambleside, where Southey and Wordsworth watched over them. His later career was dedicated to education and the church, and he was the first principal of St Mark's College, Chelsea (1841-64). He was a passionate believer in the teaching of Latin as a form of mental training, and considered the most accomplished linguist in England. Expert in all the major European languages, he knew Hungarian and Welsh poetry, and could read Arabic, Coptic, Zulu and Hawaiian.

    This ambrotype shows him with his wife, whom he married in 1827, and is unusual in being precisely datable. Among the still-life of objects on the table is a ?calendar lettered: FIELD FOOT AUG 19 1856, and the watch on a stand gives the time as ten minutes past one. The Gallery also owns an ambrotype of Derwent alone, from the same sitting, taken, if the watch is to be believed, at seven minutes to eleven. The significance of 'Field Foot' is unknown, but may perhaps be the name of the otherwise unrecorded photographer.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 135

Events of 1856back to top

Current affairs

Queen Victoria introduces the Victoria cross, an award for British soldiers who displayed exceptional valour in battle. Each medal was produced from Russian guns captured in the British war. In 2006, Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry became the first living recipient of the Victoria Cross since 1965, for his actions in the Iraq war.

Art and science

The National Portrait Gallery is founded by Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl of Stanhope, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and Thomas Carlyle, all biographers and historians. Historical rather than artistic in focus, the Gallery's aim was to collect original portraits of outstanding figures from British history, notably from politics, the arts, literature and science.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning publishes her epic and autobiographical poem Aurora Leigh.

International

The Treaty of Paris ends the Crimean war. Russia concedes to the Anglo-French-Austrian Four Points of August 1854 including the guarantee of Ottoman sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia also agreed to a demilitarisation of the land islands in the Baltics, a term which lasted until the outbreak of the First World War.
Britain launches the second Opium war against China.

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