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Unknown man, formerly known as Michael William Balfe

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Unknown man, formerly known as Michael William Balfe

attributed to Richard Rothwell
circa 1840
44 in. x 33 3/4 in. (1118 mm x 857 mm)
NPG 1450

This portraitback to top

Nothing is known of the history of this picture before it entered the NPG. While the features do not disagree with other known portraits of Balfe, there is no conclusive evidence that this portrait represents him. The attribution of the painting to Rothwell is not very convincing. Rothwell's brushwork tends to be looser and more fluent (he was a pupil of Lawrence), and his treatment of subject more generalized.

Physical descriptionback to top

Light brown complexion, red lips, pale blue eyes. Dressed in dark green stock, pale green stone as a stock-pin, white shirt, dark brown coat, white and black figured waistcoat, gold chain, greenish-yellow trousers. Sitting in mahogany(?) chair with green velvet material. Piano made of lightish brown wood. Background very dark.

Provenanceback to top

Leggatt Brothers, purchased from them, 1906.

Exhibitionsback to top

Great Irishmen, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 1965 (9).


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.

View all known portraits for Michael William Balfe

View all known portraits for Richard Rothwell

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