Marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, a new display of 59 portraits at the National Portrait Gallery aims to reveal how the art world took on the political, military, and personal life of the Duke of Wellington.
Goya’s famous view of Wellington entering Madrid, started in 1812 and modified twice to reflect his later honours and awards, will be on show. As will Thomas Lawrence’s portrait, which was painted in the year of the Battle of Waterloo and went on to become the basis for the British £5 note for 20 years from 1971.
A work by John Hoppner of the Duke as a youthful soldier will be one of several rarely-seen loans from the family of the Marquess of Douro, as well as the Claudet portrait from Wellington’s 75th birthday in 1844.
Paul Cox, Associate Curator said of the new display, ‘This exhibition provides the opportunity to examine less familiar aspects of his life, including the long political career during which he saw through important forward-looking legislation, but suffered a dramatic loss of popularity.’
It will be the gallery’s first exhibition devoted entirely to the Duke of Wellington, whose many achievements include two stints as Prime Minister. His sometimes difficult political career will be illustrated with satirical prints from the newspapers. Here, MHM looks at nine of the exhibits that will be on show.
1: The Iron Duke
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by John Hoppner c. 1795, part of the Wellington Collection at Stratfield Saye House.
2: Prussian Pail
Part of a gift from the King of Prussia, this ice pail from the Prussian service shows the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo during the Peninsular War. It was created at the Berlin Porcelain Manufactory c.1819. Part of the Wellington Collection, Apsley House, London.
3: Waterloo Jug
This commemorative Staffordshire jug depicts the success of Wellington at the battle of Waterloo in1815. Courtesy of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
4: The Duchess
Catherine ‘Kitty’ Pakenham, Duchess of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence 1814, from the Wellington Collection at Stratfield Saye House. IMAGE Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
5: At Waterloo
This painting by Benjamin Robert Haydon shows the Duke of Wellington and the Prince Regent (later George IV) observing the battlefield of Waterloo. From the Wellington Collection at Stratfield Saye House IMAGE Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
The1st Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence,1817–1818. Lawrence, a man who liked to be in control of his portraits, would on occasion suggest to his sitters what they should wear. He requested, for example, that Joseph Farington put on a blue coat for his portrait. He also painted out the blue, red, and white stripes on the sash worn by the Duke of Wellington, finding them harmful visually. To this the Duke to remarked, ‘never mind, they merely constitute me Generalissimo of the Armies of Spain’
The1st Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1817–1818, part of the Wellington Collection, Apsley House,London.
7: Family man
The Duke of Wellington playing with his Grandchildren by Robert Thorburn 1852. Part of the Wellington Collection, Stratfield Saye House. IMAGE Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
8: Wellington on film
This photographby Antoine Claudet in 1844 is a remarkable bridge across the centuries, showing Wellington in his formative years. Part of the Wellington Collection, Stratfield Saye House IMAGE: Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
9: Arthur Wellesley
The1st Duke of Wellington byJohn Hoppner c. 1795, Wellington Collection, Stratfield Saye House IMAGE Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust
Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions will run from 12 March to 7 June 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery. Entrance is free. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated book by Paul Cox, with a foreword by William Hague.
The National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London, WC2H 0HE