Frederick Sargent, the artist of this lithographic print, made at least three paintings showing the House of Commons in session and at least one of the House of Lords. In each of his House of Commons views the architecture is reproduced identically but the depiction of the Members of Parliament varies. The works were published as prints in 1875, 1882 and 1893. The prints had accompanying keys and an example of the key to this work is in the Parliament Art Collection, Westminster Palace. The oil painting on which the work is based was apparently sold through Phillips & Neale in June 1884, from the collection of J. W. Warburton.
Sargent made individual portrait studies for the work which, according to contemporary accounts, were sketched within ‘one of the Committee Rooms in the House of Lords’; although he was later given ‘a studio in the House of Commons’. The painting was completed in time for Gladstone’s visit to Leeds on 6 October 1881. ‘The Leeds Mercury’ reported on progress:
‘The large oil painting by Mr. Sargent… is approaching completion... The picture contains the likeness of over three hundred Members of the House of Commons, the portraiture in many instances being close and striking.’
Frederick Sargent was a miniaturist, etcher and portrait painter based in London. Little is known of his life. He exhibited ten works at the Royal Academy between 1854 and 1874, all of which were single portraits. According to the published listing of Academy exhibitors, when first exhibiting he was based at addresses in and around the Strand; by 1871 he had relocated to New Bond Street in Mayfair; and by 1874 his home was in Richmond.
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