From 1830–1834 Melbourne was Home Secretary under Lord Grey, although he was a firm believer in aristocratic government. After Grey's resignation he was appointed Prime Minister, a position he held twice between 1834 and 1841. Lawrence's dashing portrait was painted at the time when Melbourne, then William Lamb, married the poet Lady Caroline Lamb (1805). Their marriage proved unhappy, being marred by her notorious affair with Lord Byron. They separated legally in 1825. Two years later Canning appointed him Chief Secretary for Ireland. In this post Melbourne was responsible for public safety during the widespread 'Swing Riots' (1830) when agricultural labourers revolted against low pay, the use of new farm machinery and the introduction of cheap Irish labour.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London, England, WC2H 0HE
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.