William Makepeace Thackeray sketch (1845)

William Makepeace Thackeray sketch, by Eyre Crowe (1845)

William Makepeace Thackeray sketch, by Eyre Crowe (1845)

Medium: pen and ink sketch

This sketch was produced during the work to complete Thackeray’s Notes of a Journey, for which Crowe acted as Thackeray’s secretary. Crowe recalled in 1897, in Thackeray’s Haunts and Homes, that when the book was almost finished, Thackeray suddenly decided that he would like his own portrait to appear on the cover:

He pulled out from a drawer a bright new costume he had purchased at Cairo, and soon appeared in full Oriental garb. With the red fez cap and blue tassell on his head, a crimson silk caftan round his body, and sleeves pendant, baggy breeks and red papouche slippers, he ensconced himself on a low divan, grasping a long cherry stick, and, crossing his legs, sat immovable till I had finished my outline.

The sketch reproduced above, published in General J G Wilson’s Thackeray in the United States (1904), although signed and dated by Thackeray, corresponds well to the description given by Crowe and is similar in style to the sketches on wood which he produced for Notes of a Journey. The original sketch was in the ownership of Major William Lambert by 1904, and was sold by the Anderson Galleries in 1914. It is referenced in National Portrait Gallery : Early Victorian Portraits, ed. Richard Ormond (HMSO, 1973)

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