Leopold I, King of the Belgians

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Leopold I, King of the Belgians

by Frederick Christian Lewis Sr, published by Colnaghi & Co, after Sir Thomas Lawrence
stipple engraving and etching, published 1 October 1820
15 1/4 in. x 9 7/8 in. (387 mm x 252 mm) plate size; 16 7/8 in. x 11 5/8 in. (428 mm x 295 mm) paper size
Acquired, 1971
Reference Collection
NPG D36127

Sitterback to top

  • Leopold I, King of the Belgians (1790-1865), Reigned 1831-65; husband of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales; uncle of Queen Victoria. Sitter in 25 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • Colnaghi & Co (active 1809-1835), Publishers. Artist or producer associated with 101 portraits.
  • Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Portrait painter, collector and President of the Royal Academy. Artist or producer associated with 698 portraits, Sitter in 25 portraits.
  • Frederick Christian Lewis Sr (1779-1856), Engraver and landscape painter. Artist or producer associated with 192 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

After her death Prince Leopold retained his beloved status amongst the public as Princess Charlotte's 'afflicted consort', and continued to reside at Claremont. The emotional interview that had occurred between Leopold and Sir Thomas Lawrence, when Leopold had spoken heartbrokenly of her fine qualities while examining Lawrence's portrait of his wife, led to further commissions. During his initial visit to Claremont, Lawrence had made a sketch of Leopold, and this handsome engraving most likely reproduces the eventual outcome of that study. He later depicted the prince in his full regalia after he became King Leopold I of Belgium in 1831.

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Events of 1820back to top

Current affairs

George III dies at Windsor Castle on 29 January and George IV ascends to the throne.
'Trial of Queen Caroline' in the House of Lords; Parliament drops the Bill which was to legitimise a divorce between Caroline and George IV.
Cato Street Conspiracy to assassinate the cabinet discovered. Arthur Thistlewood and fellow conspirators are hanged.

Art and science

Sir Thomas Lawrence becomes President of the Royal Academy.
Astronomical Society is set up by John Herschel and Charles Babbage.
First iron steamship is launched.


Actor, Edmund Kean goes on a successful tour of America after making his name at the Drury Lane Theatre.
Revolutions begin in Spain, Portugal and Naples.
The famous ancient Greek statue of the Venus de Milo is rediscovered on the Island of Melos and purchased by the Louvre in Paris.

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