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William Makepeace Thackeray

1 of 33 portraits by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt

William Makepeace Thackeray, by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt; James Deville, 1850-1881, based on a work of 1824-1825 -NPG 620 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

William Makepeace Thackeray

by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt, after James Deville
1850-1881, based on a work of 1824-1825
20 in. (508 mm) high
NPG 620

This portraitback to top

Deville was an Italian sculptor, who had perfected a process for taking moulds of faces from the life, with the help of straws to prevent suffocation. He took a mould of Thackeray's features at the home of Thackeray's mother in Devonshire, which he then modelled into a bust. This was apparently very accurate as a likeness. Lady Ritchie, who owned the original bust, exhibited VE, 1892 (1084), where attributed to 'Delisle', reproduced G. N. Ray, Thackeray: The Uses of Adversity (1955), plate III, allowed Boehm to make two casts from it, and presented one to Leslie Stephen, and the other to Lady Airlie (information in letters from Lady Ritchie and Leslie Stephen, NPG archives). She later sent another cast to Major Lambert, sold Anderson Galleries, New York, 26 February 1914 (lot 571), and allowed a marble copy to be made from this under the direction of E. Onslow Ford, sold Anderson Galleries (lot 570); the latter is possibly the marble bust after Deville now in the collection of E. Steese, New York. The original Deville cast is now owned by Mrs J. E. Martineau.
In return for having these busts made, Major Lambert agreed to pay for alterations to Baron Marochetti's unsatisfactory bust of Thackeray in Westminster Abbey of c.1866. These alterations were carried out under the supervision of Onslow Ford, who arranged for H. Wernher to execute a copy of the restored Marochetti bust for Major Lambert, sold Anderson Galleries (lot 572).

Provenanceback to top

Sir Leslie Stephen, presented by him, 1881.

Reproductionsback to top

F. G. Kitton, 'The Portraits of Thackeray', Magazine of Art (1891), p 28.


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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