© National Portrait Gallery, London.
Lord Byron was notoriously protective of his image, and directed his publisher John Murray to destroy any engravings of himself that he disliked. One portrait he endorsed was completed in 1813 by the artist Thomas Phillips. It shows Byron wearing Albanian dress, ‘the most magnificent in the world,’ Byron thought, which he had acquired while on a Grand Tour of the Mediterranean in 1809. The portrait alludes to his travels and adventurous spirit while presenting the face of a calm and pensive Byron. Known to be moody, by turns gregarious and then sullen, Byron was a man of extremes, both in terms of his character and his deeds. In a candid moment of self-reflection Byron wrote, ‘I am so changeable, being everything by turns and nothing long, – I am such a strange mélange of good and evil, that it would be difficult to describe me’.