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The Relief of Lucknow, 1857

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The Relief of Lucknow, 1857, by Thomas Jones Barker, 1859 - NPG 5851 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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The Relief of Lucknow, 1857

by Thomas Jones Barker
oil on canvas, 1859
41 1/2 in. x 71 3/8 in. (1054 mm x 1813 mm)
Purchased, 1985
Primary Collection
NPG 5851

On display in Room 23 at the National Portrait Gallery

Images

This spectacular trophy frame, original to th…

Artistback to top

  • Thomas Jones Barker (1815-1882), Painter of portraits and military subjects. Artist associated with 6 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

This painting represents one of the key events of the Indian Rebellion or Mutiny of 1857. The siege of Lucknow, which had lasted from July, was raised by Sir Colin Campbell, the new commander of the British armies, on 17 November. Sir James Outram and Sir Henry Havelock, who died only a week later, had brought reinforcements to bolster the small number of troops initially under siege. British public opinion was profoundly shocked by the scale of the mutiny and by the loss of life on both sides; the massacre of captured Europeans, and the indiscriminate killing of Indian soldiers and civilians by the British armies.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Audio Guide
  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 22
  • Bayly, Christopher, The Raj: India and the British 1600-1947, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 19 October 1990 - 17 March 1991), p. 247
  • Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 22
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 727
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 72, 171 Read entry

    Gilt compo on pine, mitred and pinned with triangular corner blocks, a diagonal pattern of strapwork and florettes in the scoop, Moresque ornament on the top and back edges, the two inner semi-circular fillets and the corner bosses burnished, the frame heavily restored on acquisition in 1985. 6 3⁄ 4 inches wide plus 1 7⁄ 8 inch slip.

    The little-known Victorian history painter, Thomas Jones Barker, had a taste for elaborate frames, witness his Spanish Officers surrendering Swords to Nelson (Government Art Collection, on loan to the Admiralty) and The Secret of England's Greatness (NPG 4969). Some of his paintings were widely exhibited to promote the sale of the related engravings and for this purpose a spectacular frame was deemed necessary.

    This picture of the relief of Lucknow, a key event in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, is appropriately housed in a frame decorated with trophies of flags and cannons. These were either modelled or cast in compo. If the trophies were removed, one would be left with a frame of Alhambra type with a scoop finished in a diaper pattern not unlike that of the frame on John Ballantyne's Sir Francis Grant (NPG 5239).

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: India (Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India)

Events of 1859back to top

Current affairs

Formation of the first Liberal cabinet, following the dissolution of Parliament in light of the Liberal and opposition member Lord Russell's introduction of a resolution arguing for widening the franchise, carried because the Conservatives, the ruling party, only have a minority. Palmerston holds a meeting of Whigs, Peelites and Radicals, from which the Liberal Party is formed, and the Queen later invites him to become Prime Minister.

Art and science

Charles Darwin's The Origin of the Species is published, in which he sets out his theory of evolution based on the process of natural selection, species mutation, and survival of the fittest.
The engineer Joseph Bazalgette begins work on constructing the London sewerage system, following the 'Big Stink' of the preceding summer. Bazalgette's system, now extended, continues to serve London.

International

Outbreak of war between an alliance of France and Italian nationalists, and Austria. Napoleon III signs an armistice with Austria. However, pressure from Britain, supporting Italian unification to counterweight French and Austrian influence, leads to success for Italian nationalists.
The first oil well is drilled in America, after Edwin Drake's discovery in Titusville, Pennsylvania, transforming a quiet farming region into Oil Creek.

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