Art Fund Popular Portraits Collection. Photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London
by Unknown artist
glazed earthenware, circa 1840
8 1/2 in. x 3 1/8 in. (216 mm x 80 mm) overall
This portraitback to top
The unrealistic black pigment used for Waters's skin colour was a convention in the depiction of Black sitters in ceramics at the time. From the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, the potteries in the county of Staffordshire in northern England produced an abundance of ceramic busts and figurines for display within the home. The majority of these were representations of well-known personalities and public figures but could also depict celebrities who gained popularity through newspaper stories about their exploits. The design for this figurine were based on prints in the press and demonstrates how celebrities could be memorialised through domestic objects. Explore this portrait from all angles.
Events of 1840back to top
Current affairsVictoria marries her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; he is given the title of Prince Consort.
The Penny Black stamp is introduced by Rowland Hill; the first pre-paid, self-adhesive stamp, it marks the start of the modern postal system.
The start of the Irish potato famine, which by the time of its peak in 1851, had caused the deaths of one million, and contributed to the sharp rise of emigration from Ireland to England and America.
Art and scienceBeau Brummel, the fashion leader responsible for sparking the culture of 'Dandyism', dies of syphilis.
The first stone is laid on the new Houses of Parliament, based on the gothic designs by the architects Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The old buildings had burned down in 1834, following a blaze caused by burning wooden tallies used by the Exchequer to calculate tax.
InternationalThe Afghans surrender to Britain during the Afghan-British war (1839-42). The war was sparked by British fear over Russian influence in Afghanistan, with the British East India Company resolving to depose the Afghan leader, Dost Muhammad, who was insistent on Afghan independence, and restore the former leader Shoja Shah.
The Maoris yield sovereignty of New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi.
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