René Théodore Berthon (1776-1859)
Portrait of Lady Morgan (Sydney Owenson) (1776-1859), Writer
Oil on canvas, 130 x 98 cm
Bequeathed, Lady Morgan, 1860
Lady Sydney Morgan’s father was actor-manager of the Theatre Royal Dublin. She worked briefly as a governess before publishing a small volume of her own verse set to Irish tunes, in the manner of Thomas Moore. She moved on to writing novels, and her Wild Irish Girl (1806) was an instant success. She held a literary salon at her house in Kildare Street, Dublin, travelled widely, and incorporated her experiences into her writing. Her work featured a strongly nationalist tone and was popular with Catholic Emancipationists and Liberals. She was the first woman to receive a civil-list pension for writing. This portrait appears to have been painted in Paris, where Morgan paused en route to Italy.
View a selection of paintings from the National Portrait Collection