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

Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson, by Henry Edridge, 1802 -NPG 879 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Horatio Nelson

by Henry Edridge
12 1/2 in. x 8 3/4 in. (318 mm x 222 mm)
NPG 879

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated lower left: H. Edridge 1802.

This portraitback to top

Edridge painted Nelson on two occasions, the first after the Santa Cruz action during his recuperation in the Bond Street lodging late in 1797. This was commissioned by Sir Henry Englefield, exhibited RA 1798 (545) and now belongs to the Royal Naval School, Holbrook. The second was drawn in 1802 and is NPG 879. It originated with a request from Richard Bulkeley, an old comrade from the Nicaraguan expedition of 1780, who wrote to Nelson on Christmas Eve 1801 asking him to sit for Edridge once again - 'two sittings will be sufficient if you have patience to sit an hour each time, and three if you can't confine yourself to a chair for such a length of time in one day ...' (Alfred Morrison, The Nelson and Hamilton Papers, II, p 181). The appeal was successful and the next record appears in Farington's Diary, 6 August 1802 noting Edridge's presence at Merton with the Hamiltons and Nelson himself.
The drawing was probably made then but by the end of August Bulkeley was complaining that he had not received it. 'Sir, My Lord Nelson who is with me, has expressed surprise at not finding the excellent portrait which you have been so successful in, and he apprehends that you have mislaid my address ...' (letter from Bulkeley to Edridge 29 August 1802, unpublished but MS in library of Stoke-on-Trent Museum and Art Gallery). It is not known whether this well-worn device was successful and whether Bulkeley ever received his drawing. Edridge, who often made copies of his work, usually kept the original as a master-copy, and the NPG drawing which has descended through the Edridge family is almost certain to be one of these studio copies. Two other versions exist, in the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, and in a private Hampshire collection, both almost identical to NPG 879. The delay in sending off Bulkeley's copy was probably due to the original's being in the hands of Anthony Cardon for engraving.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length standing by a cannon mounted on a trunion, its muzzle resting on a defence wall and covering a harbour possibly intended to represent Bastia or Calvi; vice-admiral's full-dress uniform, Ribbons and Stars of Bath (above), St Ferdinand and Merit, the Crescent, and St Joachim received in June 1802; no Naval Gold Medals. The head is more closely finished than the remainder, the hair rather wiry in texture.

Provenanceback to top

The artist, then to a descendant ('Edridge was my Grandfather's uncle') Mrs Isabelle Mitchell (née Wilkinson) who sold it to the NPG in 1891.

Reproductionsback to top

Stipple by Anthony Cardon published in 1802 and again in half-length as frontispiece to Clarke & McArthur's Life of Nelson, octavo edition 1810.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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 Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson



Gallery blog

Read our latest news and have your say.

Join the conversation

Tell us More about our silhouettes, photograph of Hubert Leslie, Silhouettist

Identify our Silhouettes

Join enthusiastic contributors who have already identified 155 sitters.

Help transcribe signatures

Tell us More about our Silvy sitters, photograph of Camille Silvy, photographer with boy

Tell us more about our Silvy sitters

Help us identify the sitters who visited Camille Silvy’s photographic studio during the 1860s.

Identify our sitters