A Cabinet Council in Downing Street

Horace Harral (1818 - )

Wood engraving

published 18 June 1870
  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street

    This engraving shows a meeting in the Cabinet Room, Downing Street, in June 1870. First Lord of the Admiralty George Goschen sits in a confident pose, with his back to the viewer, as he addresses the room. Standing alongside him, awaiting their turn, are Chancellor of the Exchequer Robert Lowe and Chief Secretary for Ireland Chichester Fortescue. Prime Minister William Gladstone is seen to the right, resting his chin on his hand as he contemplates Goschen’s words.

    Hung high on the walls of the Cabinet Office, six portraits can be seen. They include a depiction of the Duke of Leeds presented to Downing Street by Lord Godolphin in 1833 and a portrait of Robert Walpole by French painter Jean Baptiste van Loo. These works were donated to the government for use in Downing Street and remain in the Government Art Collection today.

    When this image was published in ‘The Graphic’ on 18 June 1870, the accompanying text, describing ‘this sacred Cabinet’, included the following:

    ‘Like the doings of the heathen priests and priestesses they are shrouded with an impenetrable veil; and we have to content ourselves with listening to and believing, if we can, the oracles which they deliver to us, when so it pleases them.’

  • About the artist
    Wood engraver and etcher Horace Harral exhibited his work between 1862 and 1876, mainly at the Royal Academy. From 1852 he shared an office at 17 Essex Street, near the Strand, with wood-engraver William Luson Thomas, founder of ‘The Graphic’. Harral and Thomas moved to 11 Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, in 1856 and to 4 Palgrave Place, the Strand, in 1860. Harral worked as an illustrator for ‘The Graphic’ and for ‘Dark Blue’ magazine. He also produced plates for the ‘Illustrated London News’, along with his brother Alfred, and engraved illustrations for Robert Southey’s ‘Life of Horatio Lord Nelson’ (1813). In addition, he produced a series of theatrical photographs of friends and associates, which demonstrate his skill as a photographer.
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  • Details
    A Cabinet Council in Downing Street
    published 18 June 1870
    Wood engraving
    Purchased from Antiquariat für Original-Graphik und historische Ansichtskarten, Seeheim-Jugenheim, Germany, September 2011, for the GAC Archive Display at the Whitechapel Gallery
    With Antiquariat für Original-Graphik und historische Ansichtskarten, Seeheim-Jugenheim, Germany; from whom purchased by the Government Art Collection for the Archive Display at the Whitechapel Gallery in September 2011
    GAC number