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Richard Cobden

1 of 50 portraits of Richard Cobden

Richard Cobden, by Giuseppe Fagnani, 1865, based on a work of 1860-1861 -NPG 201 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Richard Cobden

replica by Giuseppe Fagnani
1865, based on a work of 1860-1861
40 1/4 in. x 31 3/4 in. (1022 mm x 806 mm)
NPG 201

This portraitback to top

This is a replica of one of two portraits of Cobden painted by Fagnani in Paris, 1860-1. According to his wife, Emma (letter of 26 July 1885, NPG archives), the ‘portrait of Mr Cobden was painted from life, while he was in Paris negotiating the Treaty of Commerce between the two countries in 1860, and the signatures in the picture are facsimiles from the original document'. The treaty was signed by Baroche and Rouher for the French, and by Lord Cowley and Cobden for the English; the signatures of the last three are visible on the document in the picture (Baroche's is just hidden). In her biography, Emma Fagnani wrote (p 53):

'Upon Fagnani's return to Paris, Richard Cobden, who was then negotiating the Treaty of Commerce between England and France, sat to him, and when the picture was finished, declared that he was quite ready to go down to posterity as he was there represented and he should never sit again - Fagnani took two portraits, from life, of the different sides of his face.'
The original of the NPG type was exhibited Salon, 1861, and was subsequently acquired by the New York Chamber of Commerce (see Emma Fagnani, pp 65-8). Cobden himself wrote to Fagnani (Emma Fagnani, p 54):

'Mr Bright remarked that the mouth and the face generally had too soft an expresion. I can account for it. Madame Fagnani, though she made the time of my sittings much shorter, did not allow my features ever to assume a little sternness.'
According to Emma Fagnani (p 119), three replicas of the portrait were painted in 1865: NPG 201; a second for T. B. Potter (reproduced Daily Chronicle, 27 June 1896, from a drawing by T. B. Wirgman); and the third for the Union League Club, New York. Fagnani also painted portraits of John Bright for the Union League Club and for the New York Chamber of Commerce, and a joint portrait of Bright and Cobden for the Corporation of Rochdale in 1868. A portrait of Lord Dalling by Fagnani is also in the NPG (852).

Referenceback to top

Fagnani 1930
Emma Fagnani, The Art Life of a XIXth Century Portrait Painter Joseph Fagnani (privately printed, 1930), p 119, under 1865.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes and hair. Dressed in a white shirt, black stock and suit. Red seals on the document. Background colour almost black.

Provenanceback to top

Purchased from the artist, 1865.


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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