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Alfred, Lord Tennyson

1 of 96 portraits of Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, by James Spedding, circa 1831 -NPG 3940 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

attributed to James Spedding
circa 1831
7 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (197 mm x 140 mm)
NPG 3940

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in pencil (upper right): A Tennyson/aet 22 circa

This portraitback to top

This drawing was found inserted into an edition of Tennyson's Works (6 vols, 1872-3). The attribution to Spedding, who was at Cambridge with Tennyson, seems convincing; Spedding executed a similar informal drawing of Tennyson reading in 1835, reproduced H. T. Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson: a Memoir (1897), I, facing 147 (see also Spedding's drawing of Edward Fitzgerald, reproduced plate 330). Sir Harold Nicolson wrote of the NPG drawing (letter of 6 September 1955):

'It is a remarkable drawing and must, I think, have been done on the boat when he was returning from his strange expedition to Spain. It is illustrative of the strange, untidy gawky creature he was when he first went to Cambridge, and is more important from the documentary point of view than the finished studio portraits.'

Referenceback to top

NPG Annual Report, 1955-6 (1956), p 8.

Provenanceback to top

Purchased at Sotheby's, 22 June 1955 (lot 515).


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.

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