William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) Prime Minister
Mezzotint with chine collépublished 1881
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
Dressed in a frock coat and bow tie, Prime Minister William Gladstone stands with his hands clasped and stares sternly into the distance. At the lower right of the image is the date 1879, when the original painting on which this print is based was made, surmounted the monogram of the painter John Everett Millais.
Gladstone sat for this, his first portrait from Millais, in 1879. Five separate hour-long sittings were required, after which he noted in his diary that the artist’s ‘ardour and energy about his picture inspire a strong sympathy’. The original painting is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. A second Millais painting of Gladstone, painted in 1884–85, is at Eton College, Windsor. Millais’ third portrait of Gladstone, painted when the sitter was 76, is now in the collection of Christ Church, Oxford.
About the artist
Thomas Oldham Barlow was born in Oldham, Lancashire; the son of an ironmonger. In 1839 he was apprenticed to an engraving firm in Manchester. He also trained at the Manchester School of Design. In 1846 he moved to London, eventually settling in Kensington. He became best-known for his engravings after the paintings of his friend John Phillip, including ‘Doña Pepita’ (c.1858) and ‘La gloria’ (c.1877). When Phillip died in 1867, Barlow acted as executor. Barlow also engraved the works of John Everett Millais (twice serving as his model) and J. M. W. Turner. He exhibited his engravings at the Society of British Artists and the Royal Academy. In 1881 he was elected a Royal Academician. He died in Kensington on Christmas Eve, 1889, aged 75.
John Everett Millais studied at the Royal Academy Schools, where he exhibited his first work at the age of 16. While at the Academy he formed lasting friendships with William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Together they founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 and Millais is now widely considered to have been the most accomplished painter of the group. After distancing himself from the Brotherhood to adopt a more popular style, he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1853. From 1860 onwards he produced a succession of works which brought him considerable success and became a fashionable society portraitist. Millais died at the age of 76, just a few months after being appointed President of the Royal Academy.
- William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) Prime Minister
- published 1881
- Mezzotint with chine collé
- height: 59.10 cm, width: 43.50 cm
- Purchased from Grosvenor Prints, June 2010
- signed in pencil below image: [left] J.E. Millais [centre] W. Gladstone [right] M. Oldham Barlow
- Grosvenor Prints, London
- GAC number