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'The Ladies of Llangollen' (Sarah Ponsonby; Lady (Charlotte) Eleanor Butler)

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'The Ladies of Llangollen' (Sarah Ponsonby; Lady (Charlotte) Eleanor Butler)

by Richard James Lane, after Lady Mary Leighton (née Parker)
lithograph, 1836
15 1/4 in. x 11 in. (387 mm x 278 mm) paper size
Given by Hugh Hale Bellot, 1944
Reference Collection
NPG D7815

Sittersback to top

Artistsback to top

  • Richard James Lane (1800-1872), Sculptor and lithographer. Artist or producer associated with 1226 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.
  • Lady Mary Leighton (née Parker) (1810-1864), Artist; wife of Sir Baldwin Leighton, 7th Bt. Artist or producer associated with 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Both Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby were from Anglo-Irish, land-owning families. They first decided to elope and live together in 1778 but were overtaken at Waterford and prevented. Later that year their families consented and they moved to Wales to settle at Plas Newydd in Llangollen where they remained for nearly fifty years. Highly eccentric, they dressed in riding habits and wore their hair cropped, giving them a distinctive masculine appearance. They were seen as a model of perfect friendship, and their story appealed to the romantic sensibilities of the period. Poems were written about them and their motives in choosing this unusual way of life were discussed in fashionable correspondence. They were visited by many national and literary figures of the day, including the Duke of Wellington, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, Edmund Burke and Josiah Wedgwood.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D14048: 'The Ladies of Llangollen' (Sarah Ponsonby; Lady (Charlotte) Eleanor Butler) (from same stone)
  • NPG D21884: 'The Ladies of Llangollen' (Sarah Ponsonby; Lady (Charlotte) Eleanor Butler) (from same stone)

Events of 1836back to top

Current affairs

William Lovett founds the Working Men's Association, the precursor to Chartism, with the aim to achieving equal social and political rights between men of all classes.
A reduction in stamp duty from 4d to 1d helps to keep unstamped newspapers off the street, and leads to wider circulation of legal newspapers.
The first railway line is built in London, connecting to Greenwich and operated by the London Greenwich Railway (LGR).

Art and science

The American poet and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson outlines his theory of transcendentalism in Nature, in which he argues for individualism above traditional authority, stressing the infinitude of the private self and the possibility of achieving an original relation to the universe.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer publishes On the Will in Nature, a precursor to his famous The World as Will and Representation.


Texas declares its independence from Mexico following a series of battles, including those at the Alamo and Goliad. Sam Houston is the first president of Texas, serving both in 1836-38 and 1841-44.
The city of Adelaide is founded in Australia, at the mouth of the Torrens river, named in honour of Queen Adelaide, consort of William IV.

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