The Edgeworth Family

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Estate of Michael Butler; photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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The Edgeworth Family

by Adam Buck
chalk, watercolour and pastel on paper, 1787
10 5/8 in. x 15 7/8 in. (271 mm x 403 mm) oval
Lent by a private collection, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG L236

Artistback to top

  • Adam Buck (1759-1833), Miniaturist. Artist or producer associated with 17 portraits.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

This drawing captures the intellectual, emotional and ideological bonds between a large, loving family and a father and his daughter in particular. Richard Lovell Edgeworth was an engineer, inventor and educational writer while his eldest daughter, Maria wrote fiction and educational texts. Together they completed Practical Education (1798), a pioneering work of educational theory that advocated the importance of learning through play, the integration of the generations and the importance of children within the family. These sentiments are expressed in Buck's drawing of the family.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Eger, Elizabeth; Peltz, Lucy, Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings, 2008 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 March to 15 June 2008), p. 53 Read entry

    Although of Irish descent and often resident in Ireland, the Edgeworths were deeply involved in English intellectual life. This group portrait shows Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817), engineer, inventor and educational writer, his eldest daughter Maria (1768-1849), novelist and educational writer, and his third wife Elizabeth (1753-97). Together, Richard and Maria wrote Practical Education (1798), a pioneering work that advocated learning through play and the integration of adults' and children's lives.

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Events of 1787back to top

Current affairs

Social reformers Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson found the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in London with support from John Wesley, Josiah Wedgwood and others.
George III shows first signs of mental instability in November.

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The original Lord's Cricket Ground holds its first cricket match.


Captain William Bligh sets sail for Tahiti on The Bounty.
First performance of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni at the National Theatre, Prague.
A British ship lands a party of freed slaves as the first modern settlers in Sierra Leone.
Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth with eleven ships full of convicts to establish a penal colony in Australia.
Bahamas become a British colony.

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