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Harriet Martineau

5 of 10 portraits by Richard Evans

Harriet Martineau, by Richard Evans, exhibited 1834 -NPG 1085 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Harriet Martineau

by Richard Evans
exhibited 1834
50 1/4 in. x 40 1/8 in. (1276 mm x 1019 mm)
NPG 1085

This portraitback to top

This portrait appeared on the art market in 1885 from an unknown source (it had not come from the family). According to family letters, it was painted by Evans during 1833 and 1834, 'as a labour of love', so it may have been kept by the artist. It was first offered, as a work by Lawrence, to Sir Thomas Martineau, lord mayor of Birmingham, in 1885, by J. Warren of Brixton, who said he had bought it at Foster's saleroom. Offered again in 1886, it was seen by David Martineau, who commented favourably on it, but other members of the family were more critical. It was bought by another dealer, J. R. Thomas, in Puttick and Simpson, in 1890, and was offered to Sir Thomas Martineau again, but declined; it was presumably acquired from Thomas by Simpson. [1]

Footnotesback to top

1) Information from members of the Martineau family, 1897 (NPG archives).

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, greenish eyes, brown hair. Wearing a black silk dress over a green skirt, white gauze trimming at the neck, secured by a small pearl brooch, and a sable boa. Seated on a small settee covered in red material. The table at the right has a multi-coloured rug on it, and some papers on which the sitter's hand rests. At top right the corner of a large gilt picture-frame can be seen. A large red curtain covers most of the background; on the left is a light-brown panelled door(?).

Provenanceback to top

F. W. Simpson, purchased from him, 1897.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA, 1834 (138).

Reproductionsback to top

V. Wheatley, The Life and Work of Harriet Martineau (1957), reproduced facing p 48, with a comment by Sir Augustus Callcott, RA, on the portrait: 'What, are your friends about to allow that atrocity to stand there?'


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 Harriet Martineau