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Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

12 of 140 portraits of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

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Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

by Graham Vivian
salt print, 1858
7 in. x 4 7/8 in. (179 mm x 124 mm) oval
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG P152

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Graham Vivian (1827-1912), Photographer. Artist associated with 2 portraits.

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. 53 Read entry

    Palmerston was a dominating figure in British politics for more than fifty years. As Foreign Secretary (1831-41 and 1846-51) he raised British prestige to unparalleled heights by a mixture of craft, bluster and force. He was largely responsible for establishing the new state of Belgium, rescued Turkey from Russia, and went to war with China. As Prime Minister (1855) he brought the Crimean War to an advantageous peace, and his political position seemed thereafter virtually unassailable. In 1858, however, about the time of this photograph, 'Pam' was defeated on the Conspiracy to Murder Bill, and resigned. He became Prime Minister once more a year later, and died in office. Queen Victoria wrote shortly after his death: 'He had many valuable qualities, though many bad ones, and we had, God knows! terrible trouble with him about Foreign affairs. Still, as Prime Minister he managed affairs at home well, and behaved to me well. But I never liked him!'

    Graham Vivian was the second son of J. H. Vivian, FRS, MP for Swansea and, like Palmerston, a Liberal. Rich and well-connected, he owned houses at 7 Belgrave Square, London and at Clyne Castle and Parc le Breos in Glamorgan (where he was High Sheriff for a period); his uncle was the 1st Baron Vivian; his elder brother, the 1st Baron Swansea. As a young man, between the 1850s and 1870s, Vivian was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, a member of the Photographic (or Calotype) Club, which had many aristocratic members, and which in 1853 became the Photographic Society. He specialized in portrait and topographical photography. This portrait of Palmerston, in a pose which recalls full-length paintings by Van Dyck and Gainsborough, was taken on the steps of his country house, Broadlands in Hampshire, where Vivian was no doubt a member of a house-party.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 478

Subject/Themeback to top

Events of 1858back to top

Current affairs

After Palmerston's government collapses, the Earl of Derby becomes Prime Minister for second time, again heading a minority government.
The Property qualification for MPs is abolished; one of the demands made by the Chartists, this allowed men who did not own property to stand as parliamentary candidates. Lionel Nathan Rothschild becomes the first Jew to sit in Britain's House of Commons, taking his oath on the Old Testament.

Art and science

The pianist Charles Hallé founds a symphony orchestra in Manchester, the Halle; now Britain's oldest professional orchestra. The Hallé symphony rose to prominence in the mid-20th century, under the tenure of conductor John Barbirolli, during which time they made many recordings, including Ralph Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 8.


The British Crown assumes control of India from the East India Company.
The Treaty of Tientsin, ending the Second Opium War, gives European powers new rights to intervene in Chinese affairs
The Fenian Brotherhood is founded by John O'Mahony, an Irish emigrant to the United States, to support Irish republican ambitions.

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