The longest portrait in national portrait gallery– full 67 foot view of Duke of Wellington’s funeral goes on display for first time for Waterloo anniversary….reports Asian Lite News
The National Portrait Gallery has displayed for the first time in its entirety the largest portrait in its Collection, a print showing the complete funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington, on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 2015).
At 67 feet long and the length of two London buses (or 67 Wellington boots laid end to end) the epic panorama was displayed in full for the first time (although eight panels were visible in the Gallery’s recent Wellington: Triumphs, Politics and Passions exhibition in a specially made display case). The work had never before been seen in its entirety having been stored in the Gallery’s Archive from 1911.
The print was displayed to visitors throughout the length of the Statesmen’s Corridor in the Victorian Galleries in a free one-hour event on Thursday 18 June, to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.
Highlights of the work include depictions of the grand and ornate funeral cortege, the Lord Mayor’s carriage, members of the royal family, platoons of soldiers, and, by contrast, the simple but moving image of Wellington’s horse being led in the procession with his master’s empty boots reversed in the stirrups.
After Wellington died in September 1852, his body was laid in state at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea before a grand state funeral. The procession to St Paul’s Cathedral was watched by a crowd estimated at one and a half million people. Other than for monarchs, with the possible exception of that given for Sir Winston Churchill, there has not since been a state funeral on a comparable scale.
George Augustus Sala’s panorama was one of many souvenirs produced to commemorate the event. By this time, the controversies of Wellington’s political career were twenty years in the past and feelings had softened. Furthermore, his death felt like the passing of an age. Wellington died as the quintessential Victorian, but his funeral was a reminder of the time forty years before when he gained his heroic reputation.
Paul Cox, Associate Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This extraordinary panoramic print has remained hidden in the National Portrait Gallery’s Archive Collection for many years. Few, if any, original purchasers of this souvenir can have had the space to see it at its full length. It is a rare and exciting opportunity to see it displayed in this way on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.’
The event was part of the Battle of Waterloo 200th Anniversary Commemorations waterloo200.org
BATTLE OF WATERLOO SPECIAL EVENT: 10-11am Thursday 18 June, 2015
THE PORTRAIT: Panoramic View of the Entire Funeral Procession of Arthur, Duke of Wellington
by Samuel Henry Gordon Alken and George Augustus Sala; published by George Ackermann & Co; Hand-coloured etching and aquatint, 1853 © National Portrait Gallery, London