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The Duke of Wellington at Deptford, 1841

The Duke of Wellington at Deptford, 1841

Artist: Clennell

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1841

Shelfmark: Additional MS 31331

Item number: f73

Length: 22.3

Width: 32.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, is shown here landing at Gordon's Wharf in Deptford. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he was the third son of Garret Wesley, the Earl of Mornington. He entered the British Army in 1787, and quickly rose to a commanding position in the field, culminating in his appointment as Chief Commander of British Forces during the Peninsular War in 1808. From 1790 to 1797, he was also a Member of the Irish Parliament in Dublin.

In 1814, Wellesley spearheaded an advance of British forces from Spain into southern France, a move that led to Napoleon Bonaparte's first abdication. He returned to England as a conquering hero and was appointed Duke of Wellington. An immensely popular figure with political aspirations, he was made Master-General of the Ordnance in Lord Liverpool's 1819 Tory government. In 1827, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the entire British Army. In 1828, now leader of the Tories, he was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

His premiership was blighted by civil unrest within England and Ireland. He moved to stem the latter by drawing up the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, removing a ban on Catholic worship. But he could not stem the riots in England, and was removed from office by the more socially progressive Whigs in the 1830 General Election.

At the time this image was taken, the Duke was a Minister Without Portfolio in Robert Peel's second Tory government and Leader of the House of Lords. He died in 1852 and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral in London.

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