The Beaconsfield Cabinet 1874
Engravingpublished February 1880
About the work
This group portrait, shows the Beaconsfield Cabinet of 1874 assembled in the Cabinet Room at No. 10 Downing Street. Included are the then Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield; Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby, Foreign Secretary (and son of a former Prime Minister Edward Stanley); and future Prime Minister Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, Third Marquess of Salisbury, then the Secretary of State for India.
In 1878 an exhibition of some 60 or 70 works painted by Charles Mercier, including ‘The Beaconsfield Cabinet’, was held, at least in part, to raise funds for the Wigan Infirmary in Greater Manchester. Two years later, the ‘Manchester Times’ noted that printmaker Henry Lemon had completed this line engraving of the painting, which ‘had occupied Mr. Lemon for four years’. The painting was again mentioned in the press in 1883, when it was on show at ‘the fine art saloon of Mr. Murray’ in Nethergate, Dundee. ‘The Dundee Courier & Argus’ reported:
‘This is the only instance in which a Cabinet of British statesmen in Council have been actually painted from life, while the picture contains the only full-length portrait in oil of the late Lord Beaconsfield. The canvas is 8 feet, by 5 feet 8 inches.’
About the artist
Charles Mercier was baptised in Clapham in 1834. During his career he worked in London, Manchester, Pendleton and Liverpool. His sitters included Disraeli and Lord Napier. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, the Liverpool Academy of Arts, the Royal Manchester Institution and the ‘London International Exhibition’ of 1873. Known as Captain Charles Mercier for much of his artistic career, Mercier presumably also had a military career. He may be the same Charles Mercier who was promoted from Captain to Major in 1879 and who was granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1885. The efforts of prisoner visitor Thomas Wright inspired him to paint a portrait of Wright in 1869 entitled ‘The Condemned Cell’.
Henry Lemon was an engraver of portraits and genre subjects. He made engravings after the work of contemporary artists, including several after works by genre painter Thomas Webster (1800-1886). He was based in London, living at Winchester Road, St John’s Wood and later at Woburn Place, Bloomsbury. Notices in ‘The London Gazette’ indicate that in 1866 he was declared bankrupt. However, he continued to work and his engraving of Robert Hannah’s painting of ‘William Harvey Demonstrating on the Heart of a Deer to King Charles I and the Boy Prince’ was published in about 1870.
- Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of BeaconsfieldCairns, Hugh McCalmont, 1st Earl CairnsGordon-Lennox, Charles Henry, 6th Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox, and 1st Duke of GordonHarris, James Howard, 3rd Earl of MalmesburyCross, Richard Assheton, 1st Viscount CrossStanley, Edward Henry, 15th Earl of DerbyHerbert, Henry Howard Molyneux, 4th Earl of CarnarvonGathorne-Hardy, Gathorne, 1st Earl of CranbrookGascoyne-Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot, 3rd Marquess of SalisburyNorthcote, Stafford Henry, 1st Earl of IddesleighHunt, George WardManners, John James Robert, 7th Duke of Rutland
- newspaper, quill, book, male portrait, beard, man, 19th century costume, suit, frock coat, waistcoat, trousers, spectacles, bow tie, cravat, tie, shoe, basket, Earl, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member of Parliament, Prime Minister, window, carpet, chair, state interior
- Materials & Techniques