Alfred Waterhouse

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Alfred Waterhouse

by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
oil on canvas, 1891
26 1/4 in. x 21 1/8 in. (665 mm x 536 mm)
Purchased, 1993
Primary Collection
NPG 6213

Sitterback to top

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Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 644
  • 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. 178 Read entry

    Gilt pine, the ornament in compo, mitred, a wooden batten 1 3⁄ 4 inches thick planted to form the sloping back edge, the flat surfaces and the caned sight edge with matt water gilding on a warm bole. 5 1⁄ 2 inches wide. With the label printed in red: Dolman at New Compton Street 24697 [the number added by hand to the label and frame].

    The frame on Alma-Tadema's portrait of his friend, Alfred Waterhouse, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, was made by Alma-Tadema's framemaker, R. Dolman & Son, a firm which the artist had recommended to the National Gallery in 1880. It is much plainer than the elaborate frames chosen by the artist for his imaginary Roman and Greek scenes, and in its use of a wide flat surface as the dominant element is more comparable to some of Lord Leighton's frames of the 1860s and 1870s.1

    1 For a more detailed discussion of Alma-Tadema's frames, see Lynn Roberts, 'Nineteenth Century English Picture Frames, II: The Victorian High Renaissance', International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, vol.V, 1986, pp 275-8.

Events of 1891back to top

Current affairs

The Irish Nationalist leader Charles Parnell is forced to resign after being named in the divorce proceedings brought by William O'Shea against his wife Kitty, who had been Parnell's mistress for a decade. The scandal severely damages the campaign for the Home Rule Bill, contributing greatly to its subsequent failure. Parnell's health also suffered; he contracted rheumatic fever and died a few months after resigning.

Art and science

Thomas Hardy's publishes Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a tragedy which explores the consequences of the young Tess's seduction by the wealthy Alec D'Urberville. In the novel, Hardy sets forward his major concerns about the individual's powerlessness before fate, whilst radically critiquing the hypocritical double standards of contemporary morals.


The construction of Trans-Siberian railway, the longest single rail system in Russia, begins in the Urals and at Vladivostock. Running between Moscow and Vladivostock, work was completed in 1917.
The German aviation pioneer Otto Lilenthal takes off in the first glider from a hill near Potsdam, the first of many guided flights and an important step in the development of aerial technology.

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