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William Penny

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Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

William Penny

by Stephen Pearce
1853
50 1/8 in. x 39 3/8 in. (1273 mm x 1000 mm)
NPG 1209

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated (bottom right): STEPHEN PEARCE. 1853
Inscribed on a damaged label in the artist's hand on the back of the stretcher:… commander of the vessels "The [Lady]/Franklin" and "The Sophia" employed/on the search for Sir John Franklin/Stephen Pearce. 25 Queen Anne Street.
Various other labels on the back relating to exhibitions and the engraving by J. Scott.

This portraitback to top

Penny is shown in the sealskin costume he wore on his Polar expeditions, against an idealized Arctic landscape. The flag on the left is inscribed: 'GOD AIDING [US TO?] DO OUR DUTY.' The portrait was engraved by J. Scott, published H. Graves & Co, 1863 (example in NPG). It is mentioned briefly in several contemporary newspapers and journals, including the Art Journal, Morning Herald and Britannia. This is the only recorded portrait of Penny.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair and whiskers with grey streaks. Dressed in a white shirt and brown and grey sealskin jacket, with canvas pocket and red, blue and white border, sealskin trousers and cap. Multi-coloured flag at left. Landscape at right white and greenish-grey. Background colour dark bluish-grey.

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned or purchased by Colonel John Barrow, and bequeathed by him, 1899.

Reproductionsback to top

S. Pearce, Memories of the Past (1903), facing p 58.


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 Stephen Pearce

View all known portraits for William Penny