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.

Lunchtime Lecture: Byron and Napoleon

Past event archive
18 July 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

Portrait of the day

George Cruikshank portrays Byron as ‘The Lord of the Faithless’, attended by the devil, ‘his FRIEND’, in William Hone’s The Men in the Moon or the ‘Devil to Pay’, 1820. Byron’s left leg rests its cloven hoof on a page marked ‘Revelation’.

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

At a time when Britain was threatened by invasion, Byron persisted in admiring the enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte. His passion began when he was a schoolboy and lasted all his life. Biographer Antony Peattie looks at the private as well as the public context in order to understand the phenomenon and explores its consequences for Byron’s life, work and death. ‘Diabolism’ (Byron’s word) manifested the principal common ground between the two men, heroism inspired by Milton’s Satan.  Another feature was mental strength, which for Byron justified his cult of starvation, now recognized as an eating disorder, Anorexia Heroica. Antony will be signing copies of his new book The Private Life of Lord Byron in the Gallery's Bookshop after the talk.

Antony Peattie’s first job after leaving university was correcting the text and English translation of some of Byron’s Italian letters. After working as Publications Editor at Welsh National Opera, he helped launch Opera Now magazine before going freelance, devising Opera Bites for Glyndebourne, supertitles for Scottish Opera and surtitles for the Royal Opera. He translated Verdi’s Ernani for English National Opera and, with Lord Harewood he co-edited the last edition of Kobbé’s New Complete Book of Opera. He has lectured on Byron at the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain.