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Sir Lionel Henry Cust

Sir Lionel Henry Cust, by Sir John Lavery, 1912 - NPG 6337 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir Lionel Henry Cust

by Sir John Lavery
oil on board, 1912
13 7/8 in. x 9 7/8 in. (353 mm x 252 mm)
Purchased, 1995
Primary Collection
NPG 6337


Lavery used this simple Renaissance-style cas…

Sitterback to top

  • Sir Lionel Henry Cust (1859-1929), Art historian; Director of the National Portrait Gallery. Sitter in 3 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir John Lavery (1856-1941), Painter. Artist associated with 16 portraits, Sitter in 18 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Cust here wears the Court Dress of a Gentleman Usher.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 161
  • 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. 109 Read entry

    Machine carved with schlag metal and painted decoration on pine, lap jointed, the mitred back edge planted. 3 1⁄ 4 inches wide. With the label: SPECIALIST IN RESTORATION AND REPRODUCTION/OF ANTIQUE GILDING/E. REMY,/Frame Maker and Furniture Gilder,/153, King's Road, CHELSEA, S.W./Near Town Hall./French Furniture Gilding, Enamelling and Decorating./ARTISTS AND DEALERS SUPPLIED./Telephone: KENSINGTON 673. ESTIMATES GIVEN.

    Lavery used this simple renaissance-style cassetta frame for some of his small portraits in the period immediately before and during the First World War. Another example in the National Portrait Gallery, horizontal rather than vertical in format, is the sketch of Sir Winston Churchill's wife, Clementine, with their daughter, Sarah, of about 1915. The frame on the portrait of Lionel Cust, Director of the National Portrait Gallery until 1909 and depicted in Court Dress of a Gentleman Usher, was made by Emile Remy, a specialist in French gilding. With its machine-carved moulding, schlag metal finish and simply painted frieze, it is designed rather successfully for maximum effect at minimum cost.

Events of 1912back to top

Current affairs

The Royal Flying Corps is established. During the Great War, planes and balloons were used mainly for reconnaissance and observation before technological advances made them fast enough and manoeuvrable enough to attack enemy positions and fight in the air. Arthur (Bomber) Harris won distinction as a pilot destroying five enemy aircraft in the war. In the Second World War he became Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Art and science

George Bernard Shaw writes Pygmalion.
Charles Babbage's invents the Analytic Machine. Considered to be the forerunner to the modern computer, the machine was able to make automatic mathematical calculations.


Scott leads the British Expedition to the South Pole reaching it in January 1912 only to discover that the rival Norwegian party had beaten them by a month. All members of Scott's team perished on the return journey. Captain Oates' famous last words were immortalised in Scott's diary: 'I am just going outside and may be some time.'
The 'unsinkable' Titanic strikes an iceberg and goes down on its maiden journey between Southampton and New York.

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