William Makepeace Thackeray
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue
William Makepeace Thackeray
by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt
21 in. (533 mm) high
Inscriptionback to top
Incised on the front of the base: THACKERAY at the side J. E. BOEHM fec/1864 and on the back Copy
This portraitback to top
According to Kitton, who interviewed the sculptor shortly before his death, Boehm began modelling a statuette of Thackeray in wax during the course of two half-hour sittings which Thackeray gave him in Paris in 1860. On his return to England, however, Thackeray refused to give Boehm any further sittings, because he thought the rough nature of Boehm's model indicated its probable failure. On the novelist's death, Boehm was reminded of the unfinished statuette, and on the advice of Millais quickly finished it. He then produced seventy casts from the original stauette, some in plaster and some in bronze, which were sold in less than three weeks. The type was exhibited RA, 1864 (959). Other known casts are as follows: the Athenaeum, London; the Garrick Club, London; VE, 1892 (1085), lent by Lady Ritchie; collection of Miss Fraser, 1926; formerly collection of Anthony Trollope; Charles Sawyer Ltd, 1938 (catalogue 147, no.351): this was the statuette given by Lady Ritchie to Arthur Clough, as a wedding present; formerly collection of Major Lambert (bronze and plaster casts), sold Anderson Galleries, New York, 26 February 1914 (lots 575 and 576); Thackeray Exhibition, the Old Charterhouse, London, 1911 (67), lent Messrs E. Parsons & Co.
A large drawing by Boehm, in the collection of Sir Arthur Elton, corresponds with the front view of the statuette. A label on the back describes it as a 'cartoon' by Boehm for a statue of Thackeray, but there is not sufficient evidence to decide whether it is Boehm's original cartoon for a much larger statue (the sizes of cartoon and statuette do not correspond), which he never executed, or a copy after the statuette. It is quite possible that Boehm hoped to stimulate a commission for a life-size statue with the production and sale of the statuettes.
Referenceback to top
F. G. Kitton, 'The Portraits of Thackeray', Magazine of Art (1891), pp 292-3.
Provenanceback to top
Mrs Wylie, presented by her in memory of her husband, Charles John Wylie, 1900.
Reproductionsback to top
F. G. Kitton, 'The Portraits of Thackeray', Magazine of Art (1891), 293; G. N. Ray, Thackeray: The Age of Wisdom (1958), plate XI, between pp 144-5.
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.