Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) Field-Marshal & Prime Minister

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: France
    City: Paris
    Place: British Embassy
    Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, who at various times held the offices of Field Marshal, British Ambassador to France and Prime Minister of Great Britain, probably still ranks as one of the most famous Englishmen who ever lived. He is depicted in profile, wearing the Lesser George (the badge of the Order of the Garter, an English order of chivalry), which rests on his right hip, suspended from a blue sash. Around his neck is the badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece, a Spanish order of chivalry, which Wellington was the first Protestant to receive. Of the many titles, offices and appointments offered to him, perhaps that of British Ambassador to France, which he held for just a few months, was the most surprising. Arriving in Paris in August 1814, he was the first British Ambassador to France to take up residence in this house, after it had been purchased by the British Government from Napoleon's sister, Pauline Borghese (1780–1825), for 800,000 francs.
  • About the artist
    Alfred, Count d’Orsay, dandy and amateur artist, was born in Paris, the son of one of Napoleon’s generals. He met Lord and Lady Blessington in 1822 and was romantically interested in Lady Blessington. Perhaps to divert D’Orsay’s attention from his wife, Lord Blessington wrote a will leaving his Irish property to one of his daughters, should either marry Count D’Orsay. D’Orsay chose 15 year old Lady Harriet Anne Gardiner and the couple married in Naples in 1827. It was not a happy union. Following the death of Lord Blessington and the breakdown of the Count’s marriage, D’Orsay and Lady Blessington became a prominent couple in fashionable society. D’Orsay died in Paris in 1852, having fled there with Lady Blessington to escape his debts.
  • Explore
    People
    Wellesley, Arthur, 1st Duke of Wellington
    Places
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Title
    Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) Field-Marshal & Prime Minister
    Date
    July 1845
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 137.00 cm, width: 104.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Lord Gerald Wellesley (later 7th Duke of Wellington) 1936
    Inscription
    sdbl
    Provenance
    Probably commissioned by the 1st Baron Cowley in c.1845 and by descent through the family at Draycot Park, Chippenham; purchased from the 4th Earl Cowley by Lord Gerald Wellesley (later 7th Duke of Wellington) at Draycot Park Sale, 1920; from whom purchased 1936
    GAC number
    0/59