DUKE OF WELLINGTON Autograph Letter
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, British soldier, victor of Waterloo and twice Prime Minister (1824 and 1828-30)
AL. 1p. London. January [?] 8th, 1836. To [Henry Thomas] Ryall.
"The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. Ryall and has received his note. The Duke regrets much that he has no portrait of himself by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The best known is that in the possession of the Right Honble. Charles Arbuthnot."
8vo. Approx 7.5 x 4.75 inches. Somewhat distressed with fold separations which have been repaired at some time in the past by the application of what appear to be strips of perforated unprinted postage stamps. These could, however, be removed with relative ease. The verso of the integral blank leaf is rather dust-stained and soiled.
An interesting LETTER. The recipient is almost certainly Henry Thomas Ryall, the author of 'Portraits of Eminent Conservatives and Statesmen' published in 1836. A further edition of the work was printed in 20 parts between 1837 and 1840. The Duke of Wellington was the subject of the opening chapter and a portrait of him by Sir Thomas Lawrence was used as the engraved frontispiece. Charles Arbuthnot (1767-1850) was a close friend and confidant of the Duke of Wellington. He and his second wife, Harriet nee Fane, spent a good deal of time at the Duke's home, Apsley House, where Harriet organised his society dinners and was rumoured to be his mistress. She kept a detailed diary of political intrigues and this was used as the basis of most biographies of the Duke. After Harriet's death in 1834, Arbuthnot moved permanently into Apsley House as the Duke's trusted companion. Sir Thomas Lawrence painted five portraits of the Duke (he also painted Harriet Arbuthnot) and the most famous of these was commissioned in 1814 by the Prince Regent. That portrait currently hangs in Apsley House. It is curious that the Duke did not own any portrait of himself by Lawrence but that Arbuthnot did, even at the time he was living with the Duke at Apsley House.