12 of 12 portraits of George Eliot
by Paul Adolphe Rajon, after Sir Frederic William Burton
10 7/8 in. x 7 7/8 in. (277 mm x 201 mm) plate size; 15 7/8 in. x 10 7/8 in. (403 mm x 275 mm) paper size
Sitterback to top
- George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (n?e Evans)) (1819-1880), Novelist. Sitter associated with 12 portraits.
Artistsback to top
This portraitback to top
This etching was made after an original pastel by the artist Frederick Burton, a close friend of Eliot's. It shows her in her mid-forties. Unlike her reaction to other portraits of her, Eliot seems not to have recoiled from Burton's image or the process of sitting to him, taking an interest in how the portrait developed over the course of a year. In December 1865, she told the artist D'Albert Durade that her friends considered it 'a remarkably fine portrait of me' and that she had agreed to its reproduction by the engraver, Paul Adolphe Rajon. In 1867, she was even content for Burton to exhibit the portrait at the Royal Academy of Arts and, presumably, for it to be reproduced in print.
Events of 1865back to top
Current affairsElizabeth Garrett Anderson is the first female to be awarded a doctor's licence. She is also involved in collecting signatures for the Manchester Suffrage Committee, the first suffrage organisation, formed this year. John Stuart Mill was also elected to parliament this year on the platform of women's suffrage.
Palmerston dies in October, and is replaced as leader of the Liberal government by his Foreign Secretary, Lord Russell.
Art and scienceLewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is published, inspired by Carroll's relationship (as Oxford don Charles Dodgson) with his friend Henry George Liddell's daughter Alice.
Matthew Arnold publishes the first series of Essays in Criticism, a defining text in the development of English literature as an academic discipline.
InternationalIn the American civil war, Robert E. Lee surrenders the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, leading to the surrender of the Confederacy's remaining field armies. A few days later, US President Abraham Lincoln is shot dead by Confederate sympathiser John Wilkes Booth. Later this year slavery is officially abolished after years of fierce campaigning. In response, the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan is founded on Christmas Eve.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.
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