Prime Minister Gladstone and two of his senior ministers sit on the Treasury Bench. Gladstone was one of the Peelites, who split with the Tory party to join forces with the parliamentary Radicals and Whigs, forming the Liberal Party by 1859. After Disraeli lost the election of 1880, Spencer Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, the leader of the Liberal Party, stepped aside to allow Gladstone to take the Premiership. Gladstone was eager to reconcile Radicals to the mainly Whig cabinet and made Joseph Chamberlain President of the Board of Trade (1880-85), while Hartington became Secretary of State for India (1880-82). Hartington is seen in the centre and Chamberlain to the right in this image.
When published in ‘Vanity Fair’ in July 1880, ’Babble, Birth, and Brummagem’ (the latter meaning cheap and flashy) accompanied an article titled ‘Treasury Bench’, which began:
‘The forces which upset the Conservative Ministers were threefold. The force of speechifying had been furnished by Mr. Gladstone, a renegade Tory or Peelite: the force of respectability by Lord Hartington, a Whig; the revolutionary force by Mr. Chamberlain, a Radical….’
Chartran’s watercolour for the print is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Théobald Chartran was born in Besançon, eastern France. He studied under Alexandre Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In 1877 he won the Prix de Rome. He painted miniatures, portraits, murals and historical and religious subjects, exhibiting in Paris from 1872 and in London from 1881. He lived for a time at 25 Bedford Street, off the Stand. Between 1878 and 1888 he contributed cartoons to ‘Vanity Fair’. In 1891 he painted the official portrait of Pope Leo XIII, who gave sittings at the Vatican. He travelled to New York in c.1896, where he painted portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt and possibly Roosevelt himself. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour before dying, aged 57, in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
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