The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

First Previous 1 OF 10 NextLast

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

1 of 10 portraits by John Callcott Horsley

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, by John Callcott Horsley, 1857 -NPG 979 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

by John Callcott Horsley
36 in. x 27 3/4 in. (914 mm x 705 mm)
NPG 979

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated (bottom left): J. C. Horsley. 1857

This portraitback to top

There are four other versions of this portrait:
1 City Art Gallery, Bristol. Commissioned by the South Devon Railway Company, given to the Directors of the Great Western Railway, who presented it to Bristol, 1947. One of the scrolls on the desk is inscribed 'DEVON/1843'. Reproduced Catalogue of Oil Paintings in the Bristol Art Gallery (1957), plate 21.
2 City Art Gallery, Bristol. Presented by W. S. Quantick, 1934. Probably the replica of no.1, commissioned in 1876 by the Directors of the Great Western Railway (which amalgamated with the South Devon Company, 1878), for presentation to their chairman, Sir Daniel Gooch. The scroll is inscribed '[SOUT]H DEVON/1843'. On loan to Swindon station.
3 Collection of Sir Humphrey Brunel Noble. Painted in 1885, and exhibited Victorian Era Exhibition, 1897, 'History Section' (9).
4 Institution of Civil Engineers.
The painting of Brunel by Horsley of 1848 is in the Museum of British Transport, exhibited RA, 1848 and Art and the Industrial Revolution, City Art Gallery, Manchester, 1968 (26); engraved by D. J. Pound, engraving reproduced L. T. C. Rolt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1957), figure 3. Horsley was Brunel's brother-in-law.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, brown eyes, brown hair. Dressed in a white shirt, dark stock, black coat. Seated at a wooden table. Silver pencil-holder. Background colour brown.

Provenanceback to top

The sitter, presented by his son, Isambard Brunel, 1895.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA, 1857 (576); SKM, 1868 (491); Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Manchester, 1887 (516); VE, 1892 (246).

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 Isambard Kingdom Brunel

View all known portraits for John Callcott Horsley


Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

Start now