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Sir William Schwenck Gilbert

Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Gilbert's military ambitions were frustrated by the end of the Crimean War in 1856 and, having qualified for the Bar in 1863, he experienced little success and abandoned it for literature. His mastery of witty humour and satire was honed during the 1860s by his contributions to Fun magazine. He wrote numerous plays, sketches and stories. His name is irrevocably linked with Sir Arthur Sullivan, for whose music he wrote the libretti of the 'Savoy' operas, among them HMS Pinafore (1878), Iolanthe (1882), The Mikado (1885), and The Yeoman of the Guard (1888).

National Portrait Gallery, London





oil on canvas


H 100.3 x W 125.7 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, 1937

Work type



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Normally on display at

National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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