National Portrait Gallery acquires last portrait of Duke of Wellington

The National Portrait Gallery has acquired Sir Thomas Lawrence’s unfinished final portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, following a donation by Art Fund and successful public fundraising appeal.

Offered to the National Portrait Gallery for £1.3 million, the portrait’s fund-raising appeal has just been completed with a grant of £200,000 from the G and K Boyes Charitable Trust and £180,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, having been kick started by a donation of £350,000 from Art Fund in October 2016. This generous support was in addition to the Gallery’s own funds, and donations from more than 500 supporters through a public appeal. Donations were received from throughout the UK and overseas.

The painting is an important acquisition for the Gallery which has no other significant portrait of the Duke of Wellington in its Collection, an omission of one of the most iconic and popular figures in British history. The Gallery has been seeking to secure such a portrait since it opened in 1856. This work by the leading artist of his age, Sir Thomas Lawrence, who made eight portraits of Wellington and was the Duke’s definitive image maker, is one of only two world-class portraits of Wellington ever likely to come up for sale.

Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘We are delighted to have acquired this remarkable painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence which will now be on permanent display and free for over two million visitors to enjoy each year. The lack of a suitable depiction of the Duke of Wellington has long been identified as the biggest gap in our Collection so we are hugely grateful to Art Fund, the G and K Boyes Charitable Trust and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and all our visitors and supporters who have given donations to help us acquire for the nation this magnificent portrait.’

Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, says: “Congratulations to the National Portrait Gallery for running such a successful appeal, which our trustees were delighted to support. The Gallery is without doubt the ideal home for this compelling and important portrait.”

The portrait can be seen on display in Room 20.⠀

Back to top