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

  • About the work

    In this three-quarter length portrait, Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington,  is shown in a black frock coat, with arms folded over his chest. The Order of the Golden Fleece which was conveyed to him as an expression of gratitude on behalf of the Spanish and the Austrian royal families for his defeat over Napoleon, is suspended from his collar. Wellington held the offices of Field Marshal, British Ambassador to France and Prime Minister of Great Britain. He achieved international fame through his victories against Napoleon’s troops in the Peninsular War (1808–14) and, together with Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819), finally defeated Napoleon at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. In recognition of his military achievements, Wellington received numerous honours; in 1809 he was raised to the peerage and on 19 June 1812 he was made an earl.

    This  painting is a copy after an original by Henry Perronet Briggs. The prime version was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837 and is now on display at Walmer Castle. Other versions of the work, by Briggs himself, are in the collection of the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.


  • About the artist
    Henry Perronet Briggs was born in Walworth, south-east London. His father held a senior position in the Post Office. He was 14 when two of his drawings were published in ‘The Gentleman’s Magazine’. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1811 and in 1813 moved to Cambridge, where he painted portraits of scholars. In the following year, he returned to London. Briggs exhibited 19 historical and Shakespearean subjects at the British Institution (1819-30) and was elected a Royal Academician in 1832; from then concentrating on portraiture. In 1838 he was in first place in the ‘Fraser’s Magazine’ list of ‘Best Victorian Painters’. However, Briggs and his wife, Elizabeth, became infected with tuberculosis; Elizabeth dying in 1839, Briggs in 1844.
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    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
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 112.00 cm, width: 87.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Leggatt Bros, July 1951
    Provenance
    With Leggatt Bros., London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in July 1951
    GAC number
    1324