Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Enamel Portrait of William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) 1880

Sidney Calton Maguire 

Enamel Portrait of William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), Sidney Calton Maguire
Enamel on copper
19th Century
1 inch 23mm high
D. Foskett, A Dictionary of British Miniature Painters 1972, p.396
Royal Academy of Arts 1881, no 1310
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The presence of Gladstone's signature on the counter-enamel of this portrait is a fascinating proof that it derives from a life sitting to Gladstone, and not reproduction after a photograph. It is an exceedingly detailed piece, and reflects the family training that Maguire received from his father, the miniaturist and crayon painter Thomas Maguire (1821-1895) and the inspiration and competition of working alongside his sisters, Adelaide, Helena and Bertha, since all of these artists operated from the same address in Blomfield Crescent.

The enamel has been framed with two further portraits. One is a portrait of John Bright MP (1811-1889), apparently also painted by Maguire, who was a member of Gladstone's government until opposition to the Irish Policy forced him to retire. If he and Gladstone have been seen until 1882 as political stablemates, this resignation might yield a terminus ante quem for their being placed in the same frame. A further, much smaller, miniature beneath these two shows a young woman, though tantalisingly neither her identity nor her relation to the two politicians has been established.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.