This three-quarter length portrait of Charles Wood, first Viscount Halifax shows the sitter seated, wearing the Sash and Star of the Bath. His hands rest on a closed book on his lap.
Portraitist George Richmond first produced a pencil sketch of politician Charles Wood (later Viscount Halifax) in 1861, for the Grillion’s Club. Grillion’s was a London dining club founded in 1812 by politician and diplomat Stratford Canning. Richmond served as the Club’s official portraitist from 1847 to 1862. Although Richmond’s portrait of Wood for Grillion’s shows a much younger man, it is similar to this work and depicts the sitter in almost the exact same pose.
Richmond painted the original version of this portrait in 1873, after Wood had been raised to the peerage as Viscount Halifax (in 1866). The work was exhibited at the Victorian Exhibition at the New Gallery, London, in 1891–92 and that original portrait probably the version presented to Oriel College, Oxford, by the second Viscount Halifax in 1924. Engraver John Douglas Miller exhibited an example of this stipple engraving after the portrait at the Royal Academy in 1886.
George Richmond was born in London and received his first training in art from his father, Thomas Richmond, a miniature portrait painter. From 1824 he studied at the Royal Academy Schools, where he was taught briefly by Henry Fuseli. He was particularly influenced by the visionary art of William Blake, joining the close circle of Blake’s followers known as ‘The Ancients’. Richmond later established a reputation as a leading portraitist and painted several notable figures, including William Wilberforce (1832) and John Ruskin (1842). In 1867, he was elected a Royal Academician. He died in London, just before turning 87.
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