EBB, "On a Portrait of Wordsworth" Timeline

Part of Group:

Haydon portrait of WordsworthThis timeline and its connected geospatial map are designed to support a COVE critical and teaching edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "On a Portrait of Wordsworth, by R. B. Haydon."  By using these new tools, we unpack the full cultural and historical complexity of this 14-line poem, an ekphrasis of Haydon's portrait.  You can link to the other two documents of this edition here:

Edition of "On a Portrait of Wordsworth" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Geospatial Map for the Poem

Timeline

Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 27 of 27
Date Event Created by Associated Places
26 Jan 1786

Birth of Benjamin Robert Haydon

portrait of Haydon
Benjamin Robert Haydon, by Georgiana Margaretta Zomlin

On 26 January 1786, Benjamin Robert Haydon was born. Haydon was an English painter, who was particularly well known for his representation of historical subjects. 

Dino Franco Felluga
5 May 1789 to 10 Nov 1799

French Revolution

Representation of the Declaration of the Rights of ManThe French Revolution occurred from 5 May 1789 to 9-10 November 1799. Image: Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier, Representation of The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 26 August 1789 (c. 1789). This work is in the public domain in the United States.

On 5 May 1789, the Estates-General, representing the nobility, the clergy, and the common people, held a meeting at the request of the King to address France’s financial difficulties. At this meeting, the Third Estate (the commoners) protested the merely symbolic double representation that they had been granted by the King. This protest resulted in a fracture among the three estates and precipitated the French Revolution. On 17 June, members of the Third Estate designated themselves the National Assembly and claimed to represent the people of the nation, thus preparing the way for the foundation of the republic. Several pivotal events followed in quick succession: the storming of the Bastille (14 July), the approval of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (26 August), and the march on Versailles that led to the enforced relocation of the royal family to Paris (5-6 October). These revolutionary acts fired the imagination of many regarding the political future of France, and, indeed, all of Europe. The republican period of the revolution continued in various phases until 9-10 November 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte supplanted the government.

Articles

Diane Piccitto, "On 1793 and the Aftermath of the French Revolution"

9 Nov 1799 to 18 Jun 1815

Napoleonic Wars

These are actually a set of individual wars that sometimes overlap, succeed, or run parallel to each other. Image: Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1800), Kunsthistorisches Museum. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project (DVD-ROM, 2002). The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Historians do not agree on the exact beginning or end of the wars. November 9, 1799 is an early candidate since that is when Napoleon seized power in France. Hoping to ease the difficulty, historians date by isolated wars. They disarticulate the Napoleonic Wars in a linear series:

  • War of the Second Coalition 1798-1802
  • War of the Third Coalition 1805
  • War of the Fourth Coalition 1806-7
  • War of the Fifth Coalition 1809
  • War of the Sixth Coalition 1812-14
  • War of the Seventh Coalition 1815

The successive numerical coordinates for the Coalitions offer regularity, but that regularity is undercut by the shifting make-up of that Coalition (sometimes Prussia was in, sometimes not; sometimes Russia, sometimes not) and by the discontinuity and ambiguity of the dates.

Articles

Mary Favret, "The Napoleonic Wars"

17 Mar 1805

Kingdom of Italy founded

On 17 March 1805, the Kingdom of Italy is founded, with Napoleon Bonaparte as King. Image: The Iron Crown of Lombardy, from Cesare Cantù Grande illustrazione del Lombardo-Veneto ossia storia delle città, dei borghi, comuni, castelli, ecc. fino ai tempi moderni Milano, Corona e Caimi Editori, 1858. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

This crowning of Napoleon as King of Italy is a result of the French conquest of Italy. Napoleon was crowned King of Italy with the iron crown of Lombardy on 26 May 1805 (crown pictured above). His full title was "Emperor of the French and King of Italy."

Articles

Alison Chapman, "On Il Risorgimento"

Related Articles

Erik Simpson, "On Corinne, Or Italy"

Marjorie Stone, “On the Post Office Espionage Scandal, 1844″

26 May 1805

Napoleon made king of Italy

On 26 May 1805, Napoleon crowns himself King of Italy in Milan Cathedral, with the iron crown of Lombardy. Image: The Iron Crown of Lombardy, from Cesare Cantù Grande illustrazione del Lombardo-Veneto ossia storia delle città, dei borghi, comuni, castelli, ecc. fino ai tempi moderni Milano, Corona e Caimi Editori, 1858. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

In a flamboyant and highly theatrical gesture, Napoleon Bonaparte signifies his political and military dominance over the Italian peninsula with a ceremony in Milan Cathedral, where he crowned himself King of Italy with the ancient, iconic iron crown of Lombardy. This crowning of Napoleon as King is a result of the French conquest of Italy. His full title was "Emperor of the French and King of Italy."

Articles

Alison Chapman, "On Il Risorgimento"

Related Articles

Erik Simpson, “On Corinne, Or Italy

6 Apr 1814 to 26 Feb 1815

Napoleon exiled to Elba

Haydon portrait of Napoleon
Benjamin Robert Haydon, Napoleon Musing at St Helena

Napoleon was exiled to Elba, an island in the Meditteranean, after he abdicated on 6 April 1814. He spent nine months and 21 days on the island, then attempted to retake his empire, leaving the island on 26 February 1815.  Napoleon was definitively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

Dino Franco Felluga
10 Apr 1814

Battle of Toulouse

Print of the Battle of ToulouseThe Battle of Toulouse occurred on 10 April 1814. The Duke of Wellington and Allied troops defeated the French at Toulouse on this day, the final battle of the Peninsular War. The Allied victory forces Napoleon Bonaparte to abdicate and accept exile to Elba and restores the Bourbons to the French throne. Image: British infantry exchanging fire with the French during the battle of Toulouse in 1814. Print after Henri Dupray (c. 1890). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

Mary Favret, "The Napoleonic Wars"

May 1814

Wellington made Duke

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonOwing to his defeat of Napoleon, Wellington is elevated to 1st Duke of Wellington on 3 May 1814. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

18 Jun 1815

Battle of Waterloo

On 18 June 1815, Wellington led Allied troops to a final victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, ending Napoleon’s “Hundred Days” of rule after his escape from Elba on 26 February. The war is officially ended by the 1815 Treaty of Paris, and Napoleon is sentenced to permanent imprisonment at St. Helena, where he dies in 1821. Image: Richard Knötel, Print of English Life Guards (left) and Horse Guards (right) of 1815 charging (Band IV, Tafel 4, Uniformenkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Berlin, 1890). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

Mary Favret, "The Napoleonic Wars"

Frederick Burwick, “18 June 1815: The Battle of Waterloo and the Literary Response”

Dec 1815

Wordsworth writes "To B. R. Haydon"

Haydon portrait of WordsworthIn December 1815, Wordsoworth wrote the sonnet "To B. R. Haydon," reproduced below (later published in the 31 March 1816 issue of The Examiner and in the 1 April 1816 issue of The Champion.  The sonnet was part of a long-running relationship with Haydon that eventually led to Haydon's portrait of Wordsworth in 1842, which then inspired Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet, "On a Portrait of Wordsworth."  Image: Benjamin Robert Haydon, Wordsworth on Helvellyn (original in the National Portrait Gallery).  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.  Here is the 1816 poem:

High is our calling, Friend!—Creative Art
(Whether the instrument of words she use,
Or pencil pregnant with etherial [sic] hues,)
Demands the service of a mind and heart,
Though sensitive, yet, in their weakest part,
Heroically fashioned—to infuse
Faith in the whispers of the lonely Muse,
While the whole world seems adverse to desert:
And, oh! when Nature sinks, as oft she may,
Through long-lived pressure of obscure distress,
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward,
And in the soul admit of no decay,—
Brook no continuance of weak-mindedness:—
Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!

Dino Franco Felluga
5 May 1821

Death of Napoleon

Napoleon on his death bed painting
Horace Vernet, Napoleon on his Death Bed (1826)

Napoleon Bonaparte died on 5 May 1821 while in Exile on the island of Saint Helena. Image: Horace Vernet, Napoleon on his Death Bed (1826).

Dino Franco Felluga
9 Jan 1828

Wellington made Prime Minister

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonOn 9 January 1828, shortly after the death of Prime Minister George Canning in August 1827, and after Lord Goderich’s failed attempt to form a government, King George IV asked Wellington to serve as Prime Minister and form a Tory cabinet. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

1829

Benjamin Robert Haydon paints portrait of Napoleon at sunset

Haydon portrait of Napoleon
Benjamin Robert Haydon, Napoleon Musing at St Helena

in 1829, Benjamin Robert Haydon painted a first version of Napoleon Musing after Sunset, which was exhibited at the Western Exchange in 1830.  Haydon later painted 23 versions and replics of this work, including the one pictured here.  The later full-length version was titled Napoleon Musing at St. Helena.  In 1831, William Wordsworth wrote of this painting, "If I can command my thoughts I will write something about your Picture, in prose for the Muse has forsaken me - being scared away by the villainous aspect of the Times."  Image:  Benjamin Robert Haydon, Napoleon Musing at St Helena.  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.

Dino Franco Felluga
16 Nov 1830

Wellington resigns as Prime Minister

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonOn 16 November 1830, Wellington resigned as Prime Minister. Having angered many in his own party with his backing of the Catholic Emancipation and many in the public with his staunch opposition to parliamentary reform, Wellington is forced out of office by a vote of no confidence, an action that prepared the way for passage of the 1832 Reform Act. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

Jun 1831 to 1831

Wordsworth composes "To B.R. Haydon, on Seeing His Picture of Napoleon"

Haydon portrait of NapoleonOn 11 June 1831, William Wordsworth composed the sonnet, "To B.R. Haydon, on Seeing His Picture of Napoleon Buonaparte on the Island of St. Helena," in response to Benjamin Robert Haydon's portrait of Napoleon, pictured here. Image:  Benjamin Robert Haydon, Napoleon Musing at St Helena.  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.  Here is the sonnet:

HAYDON! let worthier judges praise the skill
Here by thy pencil shown in truth of lines
And charm of colours; I applaud those signs
Of thought, that give the true poetic thrill;
That unencumbered whole of blank and still,
Sky without cloud—ocean without a wave;
And the one Man that laboured to enslave
The World, sole-standing high on the bare hill—
Back turned, arms folded, the unapparent face
Tinged, we may fancy, in this dreary place
With light reflected from the invisible sun
Set, like his fortunes; but not set for aye
Like them. The unguilty Power pursues his way,
And before him doth dawn perpetual run.

Dino Franco Felluga
15 Nov 1834 to 9 Dec 1834

Wellington made acting Prime Minister

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonFrom 15 November to 9 December 1834, Wellington became acting Prime Minister. After King William IV dismissed Lord Melbourne and his Whig government and appointed Tory leader Sir Robert Peel the new Prime Minister, Wellington served temporarily as Prime Minister until Peel, on holiday abroad, can return to assume the office. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

28 May 1836

Elizabeth Barrett Browning dinner with Wordsworth

portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, engraving
Portrait (engraving) of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On 28 May 1836, Elizabeth Barrett Browning met William Wordsworth at a literary dinner in London; EBB's cousin, John Kenyon, was the host and the event most likely occurred at Kenyon's main residence at the time:  39 Devonshire Place, London, which is right around the corner from EBB's residence at the time:  50 Wimpole Street.  See the associated map.  

Dino Franco Felluga
1839

Haydon paints portrait of Wellington

Haydon portrait of Wellington
Benjamin Robert Haydon portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, posed twice in 1839 for Benjamin Robert Haydon so that Haydon could paint a portrait of him (exact dates not known).  The resulting painting shows Wellington at sunrise overlooking the field of Waterloo, where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated for the last time.  This painting is a companion to Haydon's portrait of Napoleon on St. Helena gazing across the sea at sunset.  Image:  Benjamin Robert Haydon, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (National Portrait Gallery).  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.   

Dino Franco Felluga
31 Aug 1840

Wordsworth composes "On a Portrait of the Duke of Wellington"

Haydon portrait of WellingtonOn 31 August 1840, William Wordsworth composed the sonnet, "On a Portrait of the Duke of Wellington upon the Field of Waterloo, by Haydon."  The poem is a companion to his earlier 11 June 1831 sonnet, "To B.R. Haydon, on Seeing His Picture of Napoleon Buonaparte on the Island of St. Helena."  Wordsworth informed Isabella Fenwick in 1843 that he composed the sonnet while ascending Helvellyn with his daughter (on horseback) and her husband.  In response to this sonnet, Haydon began a portrait of Wordsworth, which he sent to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for her to view before he completed it. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote her own sonnet, "On a Portrait of Wordsworth," as a result.  Image:  Benjamin Robert Haydon, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (National Portrait Gallery).  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.   Here is Wordsworth's sonnet:

By Art's bold privilege Warrior and War-horse stand
On ground yet strewn with their last battle's wreck;
Let the Steed glory while his Master's hand
Lies fixed for ages on his conscious neck;
But by the Chieftain's look, though at his side
Hangs that day's treasured sword, how firm a check
Is given to triumph and all human pride!
Yon trophied Mound shrinks to a shadowy speck
In his calm presence! Him the mighty deed
Elates not, brought far nearer the grave's rest,
As shows that time-worn face, for he such seed
Has sown as yields, we trust, the fruit of fame
In Heaven; hence no one blushes for thy name,
Conqueror, 'mid some sad thoughts, divinely blest!

Dino Franco Felluga
circa. 1842

Haydon portrait of Wordsworth completed

Haydon portrait of Wordsworth
Benjamin Robert Haydon, Wordsworth on Helvellyn

In 1842 (exact date not known), Benjamin Robert Haydon completed his portrait of William Wordsworth, Wordsworth on Helvellyn.  Wordsworth is 72 years of age in the portrait.  The original, an oil on canvas, is 124 × 99 cm (48.8 × 39 in) and is owned by the National Portrait Gallery.  This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.

Dino Franco Felluga
29 Oct 1842

Publication of EBB, "On a Portrait of Wordsworth"

manuscript of "On a Portrait of Wordsworth"
Manuscript of EBB, "On a Portrait of Wordsworth" (Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor)

On 29 October 1842, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's “On a Portrait of Wordsworth, by R. B. Haydon” was published in The Athenaeum.  Image:  Manuscript of the poem, reproduced by permission of the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University (leaf 3 recto of EBB's autograph notebook).

Dino Franco Felluga
14 Sep 1852

Death of Wellington

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonOn 14 September 1852, Wellington died at Walmer Castle at age 83 after what was most likely a stroke, touching off an extraordinary period of mourning because of a two-month delay between his death and his massive and elaborate state funeral. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

18 Nov 1852

Wellington's funeral

portrait of the Duke of WellingtonAfter a two-month delay, Wellington was buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on 18 November 1852 after a procession watched by 1.5 million people and a funeral service attended by 10,000. At the time the funeral was almost certainly the most costly and spectacular in English history, and it was undoubtedly so for anyone not a member of the royal family. Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1814). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Sean Grass, “On the Death of the Duke of Wellington, 14 September 1852″

17 Nov 1855

Men and Women

Photogravure of BrowningOn November 17, 1855, publication of Robert Browning’s Men and Women, a two-volume publication of Robert Browning’s major poetic works. Image: Photogravure of Robert Browning by Juliet Margaret Cameron (1865, printed c. 1893). Original is at the Art Institute of Chicago. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Robert Browning’s Men and Women was a major literary event in nineteenth-century Britain in its shift of emphasis from the private, atemporal and generally non-social genre of Romantic lyricism to the ironies and enigmas of human awareness and social relationships, to dramatic action in human speech. His men and women are presented overtly as speech acts, grounded in psychological and cultural origins, and in the ambiguities of linguistic processes. Readers often found Browning’s mode of writing obscure, but its methods and implications consistently engage with other domains of Victorian thought, in religion, biology, and psychiatry. While the status of this publication was not widely understood at the time, its value is manifest in its reception history, in the discussion and representations that constitute its ongoing existence as a historical event.

Articles

E. Warwick Slinn, "On Robert Browning’s Men and Women"

15 Nov 1856

Aurora Leigh

Engraving of a photo of BrowningOn 15 November 1856, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh was published by Chapman and Hall in Great Britain. Aurora Leigh—a verse-novel and modern epic—set off literary, social, and political reverberations in Britain, North America, and Europe up to the end of the century. Given its innovative, generically mixed form and its controversial contemporary subject matter, it figured in debates over poetry and poetics, the nature of the realist novel, class divisions and social reform, women’s rights, religion, and the politics of nations. Image: An 1871 engraving of an 1859 photograph of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (photograph by Macaire Havre, engraving by T. O. Barlow). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Marjorie Stone, “The ‘Advent’ of Aurora Leigh: Critical Myths and Periodical Debates”

12 Mar 1860

Poems before Congress

Engraving of a photo of BrowningOn 12 March 1860, publication of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Poems before Congress. Image: An 1871 engraving of an 1859 photograph of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (photograph by Macaire Havre, engraving by T. O. Barlow). This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Articles

Alison Chapman, "On Il Risorgimento"

Related Articles

Marjorie Stone, “On the Post Office Espionage Scandal, 1844″

May 1864

“Abt Vogler”

Photogravure of BrowningIn May 1864, publication of Robert Browning’s “Abt Vogler.” Image: Photogravure of Robert Browning by Juliet Margaret Cameron (1865, printed c. 1893). Original is at the Art Institute of Chicago. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Jill Galvan, “Tennyson’s Ghosts: The Psychical Research Case of the Cross-Correspondences, 1901-c.1936″