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

Charles West Cope

Charles West Cope, by Charles West Cope, 1879 -NPG 5321 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue Search

Charles West Cope

by Charles West Cope
Oil on canvas , 1879
15 5/8 in. x 12 1/8 in. (397 mm x 308 mm)
NPG 5321

Inscriptionback to top

Inscr. along lower edge to right: ‘CWC 1879’.
On back, inscr. in pencil on unpainted canvas fold over upper stretcher: ‘cut off’;
stamped in black paint on lower stretcher: ‘BJ 121’;
inscr. in chalk on right stretcher: ‘Lot 83 10-10-89’;
and inscr. in ballpoint on small sticky label on upper stretcher: ‘C.E.F / 1519 / CWR’.

This portraitback to top

This quintessential image of the venerable Victorian artist, executed with understated accomplishment, may have been prompted by the compilation of Cope’s autobiography, suggested to the widowed artist by his sons. It emulates the style of George Frederic Watts’s series of eminent contemporaries, as well as the Old Master manner from which those derive. The muted greys and browns of background and costume offset the flesh tones of the face, lit from the right.

The work is not listed in Cope’s catalogue of his paintings made between 1832 and 1882 published in his Reminiscences. [1] It was produced in the year that Cope met and married his second wife, a decade after his first wife’s death. Three years later he retired from painting.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) See Cope 1891, pp.375–88. Just possibly, this is the work entitled Sad Memories, exh. RA 1879 (140).

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length to left, half-profile, dark eyes, full grey beard, before easel, holding paintbrush in right hand, wearing black cap, white collar, brown jacket, grey painting coat, with grey ledge/sill across image lower edge.

Provenanceback to top

Probably with the artist’s daughter Margaret Cope Auchmuty; Mrs J. Henzell Ault, by whom consigned to Christie’s, 10 October 1980 (83), whence purchased.

View all known portraits for Charles West Cope


Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story