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Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton; Clifford Lloyd

Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton; Clifford Lloyd, by Sydney Prior Hall, 1889 -NPG 2262 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton; Clifford Lloyd

by Sydney Prior Hall
Pencil, 1889
7 in. x 7 7/8 in. (175 mm x 197 mm) uneven
NPG 2262

This portraitback to top

This quick sketch was included in a collection of 44 portrait drawings (NPG 2222–2272) that were given to the National Portrait Gallery by Sydney Prior Hall's son in 1928.[1] Like the other drawings in this group it was executed during a sitting of the Parnell Commission,[2] a judicial inquiry into allegations that Charles Stewart Parnell MP had condoned the political assassination of two senior British officials in Dublin in 1880 (the ‘Phoenix Park murders’). The inquiry opened at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, in September 1888 and became the event of the season, attracting many observers, including Oscar Wilde (NPG 2265) and Edward Burne-Jones (NPG 2287). Hall covered the Commission as special artist for the Graphic, mainly over January, February and March 1889.

Published in volume 39 of the Graphic, this drawing was accompanied by the caption ‘Sir F. Leighton, P.R.A, and Mr. Clifford Lloyd (formally Resident Magistrate) listen to the cross-examination of Major Le Caron’.[3] T.M. Beach (1841–94), alias Le Caron, was a secret service agent who gave dramatic evidence before the Commission (NPG 2236–9). Beach was considered to be a witness of great interest and was examined all day on Tuesday 5 February 1889 and the days following. A reporter for the Graphic attempted to conjure the tense atmosphere of the court at this time: ‘It was not until 3.35pm that Sir C. Russell’s cross-examination began. The witness rapped out his answer’s with a sharp metallic twang.’[4] From the focused and absorbed expression of the sitter and his companion, it is clear that Hall’s intention was to communicate a similar sense of intrigue and suspense.

Hall was a leading reportage artist who joined the Graphic soon after its launch in 1869. According to the Art Journal, his drawings of the Parnell Commission were his finest achievements in graphic journalism: ‘he was in court the whole time, busy with a swift revealing pencil which missed no turn of affairs’.[5] The artist was one of many draughtsman present in the courtroom, intent upon recording the intricacies of the case and the faces in the observing crowd. For example, Frederick Pegram also captured Leighton’s appearance at the Royal Courts of Justice in February 1889 (see ‘All known portraits, By other artists, 1889’). A page of sketches in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum includes a drawing of Leighton (head-and-shoulders only) alongside a sketch of Edward Houston, who was called to testify in relation to ‘Major Le Caron’, and another of the head of ‘Geo Smith Inglis...Expert’.[6]

Elizabeth Heath

Footnotesback to top

1) NPG Report of the Trustees 1928, p.6: ‘part of a group of 44 pencil sketches by S.P. Hall of groups and personalities taken during the Parnell Trial’, NPG Archive.
2) Many of these images were collected in ‘An Illustrated Record of the Proceedings up to the present time of the Special Commission’, Graphic, extra no., 11 Mar. 1889, 50pp.
3) Graphic, 16 Feb. 1889, p.160 and 11 Mar. 1889, p.30.
4) Graphic, 16 Feb. 1889, p.158.
5) Lusk 1905, p.279.
6) V&A, London, E.600-1952.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length, facing front, seated, leaning forwards slightly with right hand supporting face, to the left of Lloyd.

Provenanceback to top

Presented to the NPG by Harry Reginald Holland Hall in 1928.

Reproductionsback to top

Graphic, 16 February 1889, p.160 and 11 March 1889, p.30.

View all known portraits for Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton

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