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Robert Southey

3 of 18 portraits of Robert Southey

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Robert Southey

by Henry Edridge
11 1/8 in. x 8 7/8 in. (282 mm x 225 mm)
NPG 119

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated lower left: H. Edridge 1804 and inscribed on reverse: Portrait of Robert Southey

This portraitback to top

The drawing had been done expressly for G. C. Bedford, Southey's life-long friend who had been at Westminster School with him and became the recipient of many of Southey's most amusing letters. The original backing paper (now in the NPG archive) bore an old printed label: ROBERT SOUTHEY, LLD/(THE POET.)/1774-1843./Drawn by Edridge in 1804 for his friend/Grosvenor Charles Bedford Esqre. It was drawn when Southey had settled in Keswick, had published Madoc and had just finished Thalaba. It shows the poet relaxed and serene, the lakes in the background, and his figure approaching the image vividly remembered by Carlyle, '... and all along I had counted him a lean little man; but now he shot suddenly aloft into a lean tall one; all legs; in shape and stature like a pair of tongs, -' (Carlyle, Reminiscences, II, p 281). Needless to say Southey disliked it and described it to Cunningham as 'A dainty gentleman his sleepy eyes half closed' (Epistle, p 313).
Another type of drawing by Edridge, head and shoulders nearly in profile to right in pencil and watercolour stipple, is in the British Museum (Laurence Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists … in the British Museum, II, p 119).

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length seated to right in a fine upholstered armchair at a desk strewn with books and papers, a view of lake and mountains behind.

Provenanceback to top

Grosvenor Charles Bedford 1814; his sale at Christie's, 1 March 1861 (40) and bought by the NPG.

Exhibitionsback to top

'British Portraits', RA, 1956-7 (672); 'British Portraits,' Tokyo, 1975 (103); loan to Dove Cottage since 1979.

Reproductionsback to top

Stipple half-length only by T. Blood for The European Magazine, August 1814, 'from an original Drawing by Edridge in the Possession of G. C. Bedford Esq.'

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 Robert Southey