by Herbert Watkins
albumen print, arched top, 29 April 1858
8 in. x 6 in. (203 mm x 151 mm)
Artistback to top
- (George) Herbert Watkins (1828-1916), Photographer. Artist associated with 262 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
This pose shows Dickens at a specially-designed reading desk, reflecting a new stage of his high-profile career, that of a public reader of his works from 1858 onwards. The portrait was made at St Martin's Hall, London on 29 April 1858, the first of a series of public readings during the London season that year. He went on to tour cities including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin, where his selection included passages from The Pickwick Papers, Martin Chuzzelwit and The Story of Little Dombey. Other regional tours followed in the autumns of 1859 and 1861-2, before Dickens later embarked on a highly successful reading tour of America (1867-68).
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. 55
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 178
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Characters and Caricatures: Photographs by Herbert Watkins (3 June 2013 - 17 November 2013)
- Charles Dickens: Life and Legacy (24 October 2011 - 22 April 2012)
Events of 1858back to top
Current affairsAfter Palmerstone'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 scienceThe 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.
InternationalThe 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.
Exhibitions and displays
- Photography: A Public Art, 1840 - 1939
Until 14 October