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Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions - NPG

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery (Porter Gallery) from March 12 to June 7, 2015.

This, the first gallery exhibition devoted to the Duke of Wellington, marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815).

The Duke of Wellington’s long life (1769 –1852) spanned the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most famous for his military career which culminated with victory over Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, Wellington later entered politics, serving twice as Prime Minister.

The exhibition will explore these aspects of his character as well as his personal life, and illustrate the role of visual culture in creating the hero and the importance of the portrait in Wellington’s own public and private self-representation.

Drawn from museums and private collections, including that of the present Duke of Wellington, the exhibition of fifty-nine portraits includes rarely-seen loans including a portrait by John Hoppner of the Duke as a youthful soldier and a daguerreotype portrait by Antoine Claudet, in the new medium of photography, taken on Wellington’s 75th birthday in 1844.

Other highlights include Goya’s portrait of Wellington started in 1812 after his entry into Madrid and later modified twice to recognise further battle honours and awards; and from Wellington’s London home, Apsley House, Thomas Lawrence’s famous portrait depicting the Duke as a military victor.

Wellington’s eventful and often difficult political career will be illustrated by examples of the many satirical prints published in the 1820s and 1830s and the exhibition will also examine the reappraisal of Wellington’s life that took place at his death and on the occasion of his lavish state funeral.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated book (pictured) by exhibition curator Paul Cox with a foreword by William Hague and will be available to purchase from the National Portrait Gallery bookshop priced £15.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tel: 020 7306 0055