Fitzroyalty

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Mary, Percy and George

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After my first visit to London in 2010, I wanted to write about some of the paintings I had seen at the National Portrait Gallery. This proved impossible as the gallery’s website contained only very small images that inadequately represented the paintings, and it refused to allow their reuse, even for non-commercial purposes. Only a few years ago, it threatened to sue a Wikipedia user for sharing an image.

Fortunately, the National Portrait Gallery has changed with the times and now actively encourages non-commercial reproduction of digital copies of photographs of the paintings it owns. It has inspired me to try to remember what I was going to write. When I arrived for the first time, I headed straight for the Romantics room and there, side by side on one wall, hung portraits of three of my literary idols: Mary, Percy and George.

They’re respectively the inventor of science fiction; a revolutionary poet, mad shagger, radical aetheist and vegetarian activist; and an even madder shagger, the world’s first rock star and a poet infamous in his own lifetime as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. In the hypothetical ‘who would you invite to a dinner party’ game, these three are top of my list.

visual art london

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, replica by Thomas Phillips, circa 1835 (1813), NPG 142, © National Portrait Gallery, London, used with permission

visual art london

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley by Richard Rothwell, exhibited 1840, NPG 1235, © National Portrait Gallery, London, used with permission

visual art london

Percy Bysshe Shelley by Amelia Curran, 1819, NPG 1234, © National Portrait Gallery, London, used with permission

One comment

  1. I’m surprised by that: when I was last there in 2005 we were able to purchase a CD-ROM that had hundreds of images on it – of course, it may be that they didn’t allow reproduction though.

    Thank you for theses beautiful images; three incredibly interesting people, and it’s wonderful that they were close friends.

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