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John Britton

2 of 3 portraits of John Britton

John Britton, by John Wood, 1845 -NPG 667 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

John Britton

by John Wood
17 3/8 in. x 14 in. (442 mm x 356 mm)
NPG 667

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated (bottom centre): John Wood. Pinx. 1845.

This portraitback to top

The picture was engraved by C. E. Wagstaff, published 1847 (example in NPG), for Britton's Autobiography (1849), frontispiece. On the table are busts of Shakespeare and the famous antiquarian, William Camden (1551-1623), taken from their funeral monuments (in the engraving the two busts appear in the reverse order). These two busts also appear in the engraving by Thomson after a drawing by Uwins. In 1816, Britton produced an engraving of Shakespeare's bust in Stratford Church with 'Remarks', later republished in his Autobiography. The model of a monument on the table also probably has a precise relation to Britton's writings. The plans on which his right hand rests are of Stonehenge; in 1842 he published an essay on Avebury and Stonehenge, also later republished in his Autobiography. Similar plans appear in the Uwins drawing. The chair in which Britton sits is reminiscent of A. C. Pugin's designs, and expresses Britton's overwhelming Gothic sympathies. He and Pugin actually collaborated on a number of architectural books.
An earlier painting of Britton by Wood was engraved by J. Thomson, under Britton's direction, and published by H. Fisher, Son & Co, 1828 (example in British Museum). In both this engraving and the NPG painting, Britton looks considerably younger than his age.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, dark blue eyes, brown hair and whiskers with grey streaks. Dressed in a white shirt, black stock and black suit. Seated in a wooden chair with red velvet covering. Book bottom left with turquoise-coloured marker. Background colour, including books, busts, table, etc, brown. Black inkstand. Background colour behind chair almost black.

Provenanceback to top

The sitter, presented by his widow, Mrs Helen Britton, 1882.

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 John Britton