by John Lucas
oil on canvas, circa 1846-1847
30 in. x 23 5/8 in. (763 mm x 601 mm)
Bequeathed by Dorothy Brown, 1985
Sitterback to top
- Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), Civil engineer; son of George Stephenson. Sitter in 12 portraits.
Artistback to top
- John Lucas (1807-1874), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 32 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Smartify image discovery app
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 102 Read entry
Robert Stephenson, the son of George, supervised the building of the Rocket locomotive before becoming engineer for the London to Birmingham line. He and Brunel were rivals and they argued over the railway gauge, with Brunel believing - probably rightly - that a broader gauge would give stability and allow trains to travel faster. The battle was eventually fought in parliament, where Brunel lost his argument, because by then there were 1,900 miles of narrow-gauge and only 274 miles of broad-gauge track.
- Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 155
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 587
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1846back to top
Current affairsThe Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel divides his own party by repealing the unpopular Corn Laws, which prohibited the import of cheap grain from overseas, viewed by many as causing the famines in Ireland (which peaked in this year), as well as domestic hardships following a bad harvest. Peel, defeated on a separate issue, resigns. The Whig Earl Russell becomes Prime Minister.
Art and scienceEther is used for the first time as anaesthetic in an operation by the dentist William Morton, while surgeon John Collins Warren removes a tumor on a patient's neck.
Edward Lear, the popular humourist and artist, and author of illustrated nonsense verse (including 'The Owl and the Pussycat'), publishes his Book of Nonsense.
InternationalThe first Anglo-Sikh war ends with the Treaty of Lahore, by which Jammu and Kashmir are ceded to the British. The war had been fought between the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab and the British East India Company, with conflict escalating after internal disorder in the Punjab led the East India Company to increase their military presence on the border.
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