An earlier blog described the portraits which hang in the Wren Library, some of which have been there since the completion of the building in 1695. Several later portraits hang on the staircase to the Wren. Below is a brief description of each of the subjects of the portraits:
Henry Jackson graduated from Trinity prior to becoming a Fellow in 1864, and became Assistant Tutor in 1866 and Vice-Master in 1914. Jackson’s area of study was Greek philosophy and he wrote influential articles on Plato. Together with Henry Sidgwick and others he developed Cambridge University’s supervisory system to the study of Classics at Trinity and other disciplines and Colleges soon followed suit. His portrait was a gift from subscribers. Another portrait by the same artist is in the National Portrait Gallery. Some of his papers are held in the College Library (Add.ms). He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge.
As a nonconformist, William Aldis Wright was ineligible to receive a university degree but he was admitted to Trinity College in 1849 as a “sub-sizar” (scholarship student). After briefly leaving to teach elsewhere, he returned to Cambridge in 1858 once the university’s religious requirements were rescinded, collected his bachelor’s degree, and earned his M.A. three years later.
He was disqualified for election to a Trinity fellowship until 1878 but became Librarian in 1863 and resigned in 1870 to become Senior Bursar. He then later held the post of Vice-Master of the College from 1888 until his death.
Wright co-edited the first edition of the Cambridge Shakespeare between 1863 and 1866 and in the 1890s was sole editor for the second edition. Amongst many other publications, he also published a facsimile of the Milton manuscript in the Trinity College library (1899) and edited Milton’s poems with critical notes (1903). He was literary executor for his friend, Edward Fitzgerald. Wright died on 19 May 1914 in the Cambridge rooms he had occupied since 1865, In his will he left £5000 to the University Library. He left a collection of early printed books and over 150 Hebrew manuscripts, as well as £5000 to the Trinity College Library. The portrait was a gift to the College in 1887.
Born in Dublin, Charles Villiers Stanford was appointed organist at Trinity while still an undergraduate. He was appointed professor of composition at the new Royal College of Music in London in 1883 and four years later he was elected to the chair of music at Cambridge. He exercised a strong influence over generations of composition pupils. Stanford composed a substantial number of concert works, including seven symphonies, but his best remembered pieces are his choral works for church performance, chiefly composed in the Anglican tradition. He was a dedicated composer of opera, but none of his nine completed operas has endured in the general repertory. He was knighted in 1902 and died in London in 1924. His portrait was bequeathed to the College by bequeathed by R. F. McEwen.
Thomas Sclater was elected Member of Parliament for Cambridge University and was Sheriff of Cambridgeshire from 1683 to 1684. A fellow of Trinity College, he obtained his degrees at Oxford. He was ejected from Trinity during England’s Commonwealth, but reinstated after the Restoration of Charles II. Sclater worked on the completion of Nevile’s Court with Humphrey Babington, the Vice-Master. Sclater was a contemporary of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren and a major contributor to the financing of the Wren Library. His coat of arms by Grinling Gibbons is on the end of one of the library bookcases and his portrait was purchased in 1749. He is buried in the College Ante-Chapel.
Arthur James Balfour succeeded his uncle and political mentor Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister. However, his initial interests were not political. He enjoyed music and poetry and was as a renowned philosopher who published ‘A Defence of Philosophic Doubt’, ‘The Foundations of Belief’ and ‘Theism and Humanism’. He read moral sciences at Trinity College. As a politician his major acts were the Unemployed Workmen Act 1905 and Education Act 1902, which abolished school boards and gave control to Local councils as Local Education Authorities. He is best known however for the ‘Balfour Declaration’ of 1917, and later when serving as Foreign Secretary, he supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His portrait was presented to the College by subscribers in 1914. He died in 1930.
A graduate of Trinity College, William Lamb was a Whig statesman who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister (1834 and 1835–1841). He was a stern suppressor of early trade unionism, a firm believer in aristocratic government and had little interest in reforms to help the middle or working class, but is best known for his intense and successful mentoring of the young Queen Victoria.
This portrait has recently been restored and was painted at the time of Lamb’s marriage to Lady Caroline Ponsonby in 1805. The marriage was unhappy, marred by infidelities on both sides, though most notoriously, Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron in 1812-13. The original portrait by Thomas Lawrence is in the National Portrait Gallery.
After receiving a degree in history from Trinity, Stanley Baldwin went into the family business of iron manufacturing and following a large inheritance he went into politics. He was three times Conservative prime minister between 1923 and 1937 and headed the government during the General Strike of 1926.
His management of this abdication crisis of 1936 was highly praised. Baldwin’s most notable position was his support of parliamentary democracy during times when revolution and dictatorship were common European experiences.
Baldwin was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1930 until his death in 1947 and is pictured here in his Chancellor’s robes. The portrait was presented to the College by subscribers in 1932.
All of Trinity College’s oil paintings can be found on the Art UK website.