Artwork - Neville Chamberlain

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  • Title: Neville Chamberlain
  • Artist: William Orpen
  • Date: 1929 [Date painted]
  • Medium:
  • Dimensions: 100cm (h) x 77cm (w)
  • Catalogue number: WOA 6771
  • Description: Portrait of Neville Chamberlain seated with hands clasped and looking out at the viewer.This portrait was painted before the General Election in 1929 and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in June 1933, in which he was described as “that mighty mover behind Cabinet scenes, lean, taciturn, iron willed”. After he entered Parliament in 1918, as Conservative MP for Birmingham, Ladywood, Chamberlain's Cabinet career began swiftly. He served as Postmaster General, Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer in quick succession between 1922-24. In 1933, as part of the National Government, he was once again appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, before succeeding Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister in 1937. With war brewing in Europe, Chamberlain sought a peaceful solution, the moreso since he had lived through the horrors of World War One. After meeting the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, in 1938, Chamberlain famously declared “Peace for our time”, but it was to be short-lived, as Hitler occupied Prague the following year. The invasion of Poland made Chamberlain's policy of appeasement impossible, and on 3 September 1939, he declared war. Following Germany's invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, he resigned in 1940, dying six months later.

    Sir William Orpen enjoyed a long and celebrated career. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art, Dublin (1891-7), and the Slade School of Art, London (1897-9). He was appointed official British war artist in World War One and in 1919 he was appointed official artist to the British Peace Delegation, from which he produced the large and very traditional group portrait, The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 28th June 1919. Orpen also painted politicians, financiers and industrialists of the time, including Churchill and Lloyd-George. Each portrait imbued with the warmth and personality of the sitter.

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Neville Chamberlain