Sir Charles Barry
Sir Charles Barry
by Herbert Watkins
albumen print, 1859-1860
8 1/4 in. x 6 1/4 in. (208 mm x 158 mm)
Artistback to top
- (George) Herbert Watkins (1828-1916), Photographer. Artist associated with 260 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
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. 57 Read entry
Barry was already one of the most prominent architects of his day - the builder of the Travellers' Club, the Reform Club and Bridgewater House - when in 1836 he won first prize in the competition to design the new Houses of Parliament. Work began in 1840, and was nearing completion at the time of his death (it was finished under the supervision of his son E. M. Barry). As a work of the Gothic imagination his Palace of Westminster is unrivalled in its scale and vision. The Tsar of Russia called it 'a dream in stone', and, on its site by the Thames, in all seasons and weathers, it has been an inspiration not only to Londoners and tourists, but to many artists, among them Monet.
This photograph was taken shortly before Barry's death from heart disease, and yet still shows a man 'of the toughest fibre, of almost super-human industry, … thirsting for fame' (George Aitchison).
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Painting Parliament: The Fine Arts Commission 1841 - 1863 (11 August 2014 - 30 May 2015)
Events of 1859back to top
Current affairsFormation 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 scienceCharles 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.
InternationalOutbreak 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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