Lord Robert Edward Somerset
- Extended catalogue entry
Regency Portraits Catalogue
Lord Robert Edward Somerset
by William Salter
20 3/8 in. x 16 1/8 in. (518 mm x 409 mm)
This portraitback to top
The portraits [NPG 3689-NPG 3769] are oil studies for a large picture (about 6ft x 11ft), 'The Waterloo Banquet', now hanging at Stratfield Saye House. The banquet was held regularly at Apsley House on the anniversary of Waterloo, 18 June 1815, William Salter's picture representing the occasion in 1836, though it may have been conceived earlier. Two of the sitters, Bathurst and Manners, died in 1834 and 1835 and their portraits appear to have been painted from life, but the only banquet when both William IV and William II of Holland were present was in 1836 (The Times, 20 June 1836, 4e). The finished work, far more meticulously painted than the rather rough oil studies, was completed in 1840 and exhibited in June 1841 at 20 Threadneedle Street, the offices of Alderman Moon who published Greatbach's engraving of the picture. Neither Moon nor Salter were able to find a buyer for the picture until it was bought in 1852 by a friend of Salter's, Edward Mackenzie, who had just acquired a large house in the country, Fawley Court, Henley-on-Thames. It hung there until bequeathed to the 6th Duke of Wellington by his grandson Major W. R. D. Mackenzie.
The NPG oil studies are probably ad vivum sketches painted coarsely but with considerable verve and with close but not infallible attention to the details of uniform and orders. Several of them, if not all, were worked up into finished portraits for the individual subjects, the Mackenzie family tradition being that two sets were painted.
According to what I have been told by my Father and my Grandfather, Salter certainly painted two sets of these portraits; I do not know who commissioned one set, but have an idea that Salter tried to sell them to the subjects. Also according to family tradition, Salter who was a friend of my great-grandfather, tried unsuccessfully to sell the Banquet picture and another set of portraits, and these were finally bought by my great-grandfather out of friendship to Salter, and possibly because he had just acquired a house large enough to house them.
(Letter of 3 July 1952 from Alexander Mackenzie of Inverness in NPG archive.)
A few of Salter's improved sketches are known to be still in the sitters' family collections or elsewhere (Askew, Clifton, Dick, Dickson, Hunter-Blair, Richmond and Lennox, Rooke, Rowan and Wellington); and a few more, implying completion, were engraved by either Cochran or Greatbach (Bowater, Egerton, Hunter-Blair, Lambert, Lygon, Richmond and Lennox, Sleigh, Lord Edward Somerset, Townshend, Wellington and Wyndham). The NPG set, after its acquisition by Edward Mackenzie, hung on the staircase at Fawley Court until the house was requisitioned for military purposes in the Second World War. They were then boxed in neatly fitting wooden cabinets made by the Office of Works and finally came to the NPG in 1950.
Referenceback to top
Dalton 1890, 1904
Charles Dalton, The Waterloo Roll Call, 1890 and 2nd edn. 1904.
Dawnay & Tamplin 1971
Major N. P. Dawnay & Major J. M. A. Tamplin, 'The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House 1836, by William Salter' in Journal of Society for Army Historical Research, XLIX, 1971, pp 63-76 illustrated with several of the studies and a colour reproduction of the whole picture as frontispiece.
Elizabeth Longford, 'Apsley House and the Battle of the Waterloo Banquets' in The V&A Album 2, 1983, pp 22-7.
The Athenaeum, 1841, p 342 notices the exhibition at Mr Moon's house in Threadneedle Street, 18 June 1841.
Physical descriptionback to top
Three-quarter-length standing gesturing with left hand, lieutenant-general's uniform, Ribbon and Star of GCB, Badges of St Vladimir, Maria Theresa, ? Tower and Sword, Peninsula Cross with one clasp, and Waterloo Medal; black hair, brown eyes, swarthy complexion; column in left background.
Provenanceback to top
The artist until bought, together with the finished painting, by Edward Mackenzie in 1852 'out of friendship' for Salter; bequeathed by his son William Dalziel Mackenzie to the NPG in 1929 (though the bequest did not take effect till 1950).
Reproductionsback to top
Line and stipple vignette by J. Cochran published 1 August 1841 and re-issued 15 February 1853 by Thomas Boys (example in National Army Museum).
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 Lord Robert Edward Somerset
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