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Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

9 of 150 portraits of Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

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Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener

by Otto Schoefft
albumen cabinet card, October 1884-June 1885
5 3/4 in. x 3 7/8 in. (145 mm x 100 mm) image size
Purchased, 1982
Photographs Collection
NPG x15599

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Otto Schoefft (active 1880-1890), Photographer. Artist of 2 portraits.

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. 105 Read entry

    The embodiment of the successful imperialist general, Kitchener served under Wolseley in the relief expedition to Gordon in Khartoum, and subsequently commanded in Egypt and the Sudan. His reputation for invincibility was enhanced by his victories in the Boer War, and at the time of the First World War it was he who converted the small British Army into one of three million men. He went down on HMS Hampshire off Scapa Flow.

    This photograph was taken in Cairo at a much earlier stage in the Field Marshal's career, by the German photographer Schoefft, who styled himself 'photographe de la Cour au Caire'. Kitchener signed it proudly no less than four times on the verso, giving his rank as 'Major'. It therefore dates from between 8 October 1884 and 15 June 1885, for which short period Kitchener held the rank. He was at that time heavily involved in military intelligence in Egypt, and often worked in disguise. It fell to him to send the first authoritative report of the death of General Gordon on 26 January 1885.

Placesback to top

  • Place made: Egypt (photographer's studio, Cairo)

Events of 1884back to top

Current affairs

The Third Reform Act further reduces the financial threshold for voters, extending the franchise to all householders in the counties, achieving uniformity with those in the boroughs, and effectively doubling the electorate from 2.5 million to just under 5 million.
Foundation of the socialist group, the Fabian Society. The group quickly grows in size, including members Eleanor Marx, George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb.

Art and science

Under the editorship of James Murray, the Oxford English Dictionary begins publication, with the tenth and final volume appearing 1928. The idea for a historical dictionary of the English language had been conceived by members of the Philological Society in 1857, including Frederick Furnivall, and some 800 voluntary readers contributed to the immense project.


Germany annexes Southwest Africa, Togoland, the Cameroons, and Tanganyike, and launches the scramble for Africa as it becomes the third largest colonial power in the continent. Bismarck also invites the European powers to a West Africa conference in Berlin, which, carving up the map of Africa between them, regulates colonial practice, frees trade and prohibits slavery, formally marking the start of the New Imperialism which would flourish until World War I.

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