1 portrait of James Tod
by Alexander Scott, after James Edgar
mezzotint, published April 1857
15 3/8 in. x 12 1/8 in. (389 mm x 309 mm) plate size; 15 5/8 in. x 12 5/8 in. (396 mm x 320 mm) paper size
Purchased with help from the Friends of the National Libraries and the Pilgrim Trust, 1966
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Events of 1857back to top
Current affairsPalmerston passes the Matrimonial Causes Act in the face of parliamentary opposition. The act establishes divorce courts, although women, unlike men, are not allowed to sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition is held, a follow-up to the Great Exhibition of 1851, although highlighting Britain's private art collections rather than industry and technology. More than 1.3 million people visit the event.
Art and scienceElizabeth Gaskell publishes The Life of Charlotte Brontë, a year after the author's death. The controversial biography consolidates the myth of the Brontë sisters as isolated geniuses living in remote Yorkshire.
Illustrator George Scharf becomes the first Secretary of the National Portrait Gallery, overseeing the collection's growth and its several moves around London before a permanent home is established in 1896, the year after Scharf's death.