The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt, by Theodore Blake Wirgman, circa 1882 -NPG 5414 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue Search

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt

by Theodore Blake Wirgman
Pencil, pen and brown ink on cream wove paper, circa 1882
16 1/2 in. x 12 5/8 in. (420 mm x 322 mm)
NPG 5414

Inscriptionback to top

Signed by the artist lower right: ‘T.B. Wirgman’;
signed by the sitter lower left: ‘J.E. Boehm’.

This portraitback to top

Theodore Blake Wirgman, graphic artist and printmaker, was born into a Swedish family in Louvain, Belgium, and studied at the RA Schools, London, and then with Ernest Hébert in Paris.[1] On returning to England he worked for the Graphic (1875–1901) and it is possible this careful drawing was preparatory to a magazine illustration.

Boehm is shown working on a maquette for the statue of Sir Francis Drake, a bronze commissioned by the Duke of Bedford for Tavistock, Devon, in March 1882.[2] The drawing is undated but Boehm was enthusiastic and began work on the Drake commission in April.[3] There are differences between the model in Wirgman’s drawing and the finished statue as cast in 1883 (e.g. Drake’s costume, the socle for the globe); Wirgman probably shows an early discarded design which indicates a terminus ante quem of 1882. Boehm seems to be modelling in clay; it was his use of terracotta, a relatively unusual medium among British-trained sculptors at the time, which attracted attention when he began exhibiting in 1862.[4]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Houfe 1978, p.502.
2) Boehm also made a reduced version of the statue for Woburn Abbey: the plaster model was exh. RA 1883 and cast in bronze 1884–5; Woburn Abbey. This model (which is larger than the model in NPG 5414) can be seen in the photographs of Boehm in his studio by J.P. Mayall (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs, c.1883’).
3) Stocker 1986; Stocker 1988, pp.133–4.
4) Spielmann 1891a, p.134. See RA 1862 (1132), Bust of a Gentleman.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length, standing to left.

Conservationback to top

Conserved, 1981.

Provenanceback to top

Abbott & Holder (1977), London; purchased by the NPG from Covent Garden Gallery Ltd, 1981.

Exhibitionsback to top

Wirgman exhibition, a show of drawings from scrapbooks, Abbott & Holder, London, 1977 (no handlist).

View all known portraits for Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Bt

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video