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William Harrison Ainsworth

1 of 10 portraits of William Harrison Ainsworth

William Harrison Ainsworth, by Daniel Maclise, circa 1834 -NPG 3655 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

William Harrison Ainsworth

by Daniel Maclise
circa 1834
36 in. x 27 3/4 in. (914 mm x 705 mm)
NPG 3655

This portraitback to top

The head in this portrait is very close to that in Maclise's engraving of Ainsworth, published Fraser's Magazine, X (July 1834), facing 48, as no.50 of his 'Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters', so it presumably dates from 1834 or earlier. The NPG portrait was engraved by W. C. Edwards for the frontispiece of the fourth edition of Ainsworth's novel, Rockwood (1836), and again by S. Freeman, published H. Colburn, 1843 (example in NPG). According to Ellis, Maclise first met Ainsworth in 1827 through Crofton Croker, soon after the painter's arrival in England from Cork. Other paintings and drawings by Maclise are listed below:

1827
Drawing. Victoria and Albert Museum. Reproduced S. M. Ellis, I, facing 118.

Drawing. Reproduced S. M. Ellis, I, facing 188, when in the collection of Captain Swanson.

c.1834
Painting (unfinished). Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Presumably the portrait in the Maclise Sale, Christie's, 24 June 1870 (lot 186). Exhibited Charles Dickens, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970 (P1), and Daniel Maclise, Arts Council at the NPG, 1972 (57). It is similar in style to the NPG portrait, and shows the sitter at much the same age.

1835
Drawing of 'The Fraserians'. Victoria and Albert Museum. Published as an engraving in Fraser's Magazine, XI (1835), between 2 and 3. Another related drawing is also in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

c.1844
Painting. Exhibited RA, 1844 (9). Engraved by E. Finden, published 1844 (example in NPG), for Ainsworth's Magazine. Sotheby's (Belgravia), 20 June 1972 (lot 9).

Undated
Water-colour. Collection of A. Hallam Murray, 1931.

Physical descriptionback to top

Florid complexion, red cheeks, blue-green eyes, brown hair. Dressed in a dark green stock, white shirt, brown waistcoat, dark green coat. Background colour brown.

Provenanceback to top

The sitter; by descent to his grandson, Captain Swanson, and presented by his wife, Mrs Crocker Fox (who married again), 1949.

Exhibitionsback to top

Daniel Maclise, Arts Council at the NPG, 1972 (58).

Reproductionsback to top

S. M. Ellis, William Harrison Ainsworth and his Friends (1911), I, 314, II, 226, frontispiece (engraved by Edwards); Connoisseur, CXXV (May 1950), 121.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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