Monday, April 4, 2011

Gallery and Historic Houses Unite to Celebrate Great Portraits from Victorian and Edwardian Britain

LONDON.- From Beatrix Potter and Charles Dickens to Ellen Terry and King Edward VII, some of the most famous names of the Victorian and Edwardian age are the focus of an exciting new collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and the National Trust. For the first time, iconic portraits from the National Portrait Gallery Collection and selected houses of the National Trust are the subject of a new book, A Guide to Victorian & Edwardian Portraits, published on Thursday 7 April 2011. Featuring 60 portraits of sitters including writers and musicians, actors and scientists, royalty and statesmen, the book provides a fascinating overview of a turning point in portraiture and how it depicted the great names of the age. Covering the revolutionary style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the nineteenth century, to outstanding society portraits of the early twentieth century, A Guide to Victorian & Edwardian Portraits includes large narrative paintings, popular prints and the early use of photography. Many of the portraits featured in the book are either on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and its nineteenth century regional partner Bodelwyddan Castle in north Wales, or in the historic settings of National Trust houses around the country, for which many were commissioned. The book reveals an astonishing range of artistic styles and techniques, while illustrations and engaging commentaries on sitters such as Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf, shed light on the various ways in which people chose to be presented – wherever possible using the actual words of the artists, photographers and the subjects themselves. Other subjects featured in the book include Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Mary Seacole, Lewis Carroll, William Morris, Edward Elgar, Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw. Artists and photographers that captured them on canvas or camera include Aubrey Beardsley, Julia Margaret Cameron, Ford Madox Brown, Frederic Leighton, John Singer Sargent and James Jacques Tissot. The remarkable early photographic portraits offer an intimate insight into the lives of the sitters, and include classic images of Virginia Woolf by Charles Beresford, Beatrix Potter by her father Rupert, the self portrait by Lewis Carroll, Mrs Beeton by Maull & Polyblank (one of the National Portrait Gallery’s earliest photographic acquisitions), Oscar Wilde by Sarony, and the father of photography himself, William Henry Fox Talbot. A Guide to Victorian & Edwardian Portraits is written by Peter Funnell, Curator of Nineteenth-Century Portraits and Head of Research Programmes at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and Jan Marsh, a writer specialising in biographies of artists and authors. Their text draws on research from the new online Later Victorian Portrait Catalogue – an ambitious cataloguing project that will extend the period of portraits catalogued from the sixteenth to the end of the nineteenth centuries – which was launched on the National Portrait Gallery’s website earlier this year. Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This book is an exciting addition to the Gallery’s important series of guides, including A Guide to Contemporary Portraits and A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, which like this latest book focuses on our very strong links with the National Trust. I am sure readers will enjoy discovering the people in these portraits and visiting the many National Trust houses associated with them.’ Sarah Staniforth, Museums and Collections Director at the National Trust, says: ‘This partnership between the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery continues what is a long-standing and successful collaboration between us, with Gallery collections on display at properties such as Montacute House and Beningbrough Hall. ‘This book is a wonderful addition to the study of portraiture and how the Victorians and Edwardians were depicted and we hope it will inspire visitors both to the Gallery and to Trust houses to see these portraits in a new light.’ A Guide to Victorian & Edwardian Portraits by Peter Funnell and Jan Marsh with 60 full colour Illustrations is published by the National Portrait Gallery, London, in association with the National Trust on Thursday 7 April 2011. Paperback £7.99. Available from the Gallery and selected National Trust properties, in book shops.

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