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

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell, by George Richmond, 1851 -NPG 1720 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Elizabeth Gaskell

by George Richmond
1851
24 1/4 in. x 18 3/4 in. (616 mm x 476 mm)
NPG 1720

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated (bottom left): George Richmond delt 1851

This portraitback to top

This is the most famous and most widely reproduced image of Mrs Gaskell. She sat for it on 6 February 1851 (see reference to Richmond's 'Diary'), writing on 9 February in a letter apparently to her sister, Marianne (Letters, p 158):

'Wednesday I did not go to Richmond, it was too bad a day for him to draw ... Tuesday [error for Thursday, 6 February] a long piece of Richmond again. I think it is like me; I hope Papa will think so but I am almost doubtful.' [1]
In a letter of 24 February 1851 to Richmond, Mrs Gaskell wrote (Letters, p 179):

'I must plead indisposition as an excuse for not sooner having written to tell you that some time ago my husband placed £31-10s to your account at Masterman's ... With many pleasant recollections of the time I passed in your studio, believe me to remain Yours very truly E. G. Gaskell.' [2]
The same price is recorded in Richmond's 'Account Book', his normal charge for a portrait drawing. The offer to bequeath the drawing was first made in a letter from Miss Margaret Gaskell of 22 January 1895 (NPG archives), offering the drawing on behalf of herself and her sister, Julia.

Footnotesback to top

1) Published in the Letters with the date 13 July 1851. The new date was confirmed by Chapple in a letter of 29 October 1970 (NPG archives).
2) Published in the Letters with the date 24 February (?1852), but the new date confirmed by Chapple (see above).

Referenceback to top

Chapple and Pollard (eds.) 1966
Letters of Mrs Gaskell, edited J. A. V. Chapple and A. Pollard (Manchester, 1966), pp 158, 179.

Hopkins 1952
A. B. Hopkins, Elizabeth Gaskell: her Life and Work (1952), pp 92, 115, 349.

Richmond a
G. Richmond, 'Account Book' (photostat copy, NPG archives), p 53, under 1851.

Richmond b
Richmond, 'Diary' (photostat copy, NPG archives), under 6 February 1851.

Provenanceback to top

The sitter, bequeathed by her daughter, Miss Margaret Gaskell, 1913.

Exhibitionsback to top

VE, 1892 (368).

Reproductionsback to top

A. B. Hopkins, Elizabeth Gaskell: her Life and Work (1952), facing p 161.


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 Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (née Stevenson)

View all known portraits for George Richmond

Join

Become a Member

Enjoy access to special events, discounts on the Gallery online shop, supporters’ updates and much more

Join today

Get social

Bringing people together by sharing the portraits and stories of the men and women who have shaped our nation.

Facebook Instagram Twitter

Newsletter

Sign up to receive information on exhibitions, collections and activities of the National Portrait Gallery, including special offers, shop products, and exclusive competitions.

Sign up