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Edward Brailsford Bright, 1831-91


Object connections:

Collection Sculpture
User collections Moustaches by lucinda
Gallery locationSea Things Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: Bright, Charles Tilston
Depiction: Bright, Edward Brailsford

Object details:

Object ID SCU0069
Description Head-and-torso marble bust, sitting on its own flat base. The sitter faces forward, his head slightly turned to his right. His hair is worn just over his ears, strongly parted on his right and he has a large walrus moustache that nearly conceals his lips. He wears an informal jacket with small lapels over a soft turn-down-collar shirt. His loosely knotted (probably silk) tie falls outside the jacket to the front. A patterned robe is swathed round the figure from the right shoulder, under the left arm and back over the right shoulder, where the long-tassled hem hangs loose to front and side. The bust is signed on the back, 'G. 1875'. Gleichen exhibited marble busts of both E. B. Bright (1831-1913) and his younger brother Sir Charles Tilston Bright (1832-88) at the Royal Academy that year: this was previously thought to be the latter but a reproduction in Sir Charles's biography (by his son, also called Charles; 2nd ed. 1908, p. 440) shows it is not. A photograph of Sir Charles's with an integral caption and number ('No. 38') is also included in the National Portrait Gallery 'Gleichen Album' of his more important works (p.38) with a manuscript date of 1874 added. The present bust - or possibly a plaster version from it - is similarly shown on the facing page (p.39) but is only identified as 'A Portrait (No.39)', again as a caption integral to the print. This contiguity, the two busts' compositional relationship and exhibition date, physical resemblance and the fact that Sir Charles's biography states that he and Gleichen were friends, all point towards this one representing Edward, now (May 2017) confirmed by a photographic carte-de-visite image signed and dated 1873 by him (kindly provided by Bill Burns). His name was perhaps omitted in the Album, (which the NPG believes may have been used promotionally) possibly by request and/or for his modest social status amid an otherwise very titled assembly. The fact the piece is included speaks well of its quality and Gleichen's friendship, since the brothers were close and he must have known both. The Brights were significant early electric-telegraph engineers. Charles was a specialist in laying long-distance sub-sea cables and his great early achievement, for which he was knighted at only 26, was the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1858. With his later partner, Latimer Clark, he was also responsible for originating the modern system of electrical units - the 'volt' 'amp' and 'ohm', and the related use of an electrical 'kilo' (x1000) scale. Edward had a parallel career in the telegraph and electrical industry, working with Charles, including on underwater cables in the West Indies and in their joint interests in mining, especially in Serbia, in the 1860s and 1870s. The robe shown round the shoulders here may be a Balkan allusion. In 1878 he became a director of the British Electric Light Co., and he also wrote on related scientific subjects. This is a monochrome studio photograph from an existing Museum negative: it will in due course be replaced by a directly taken digital image. To discuss ordering a high-quality digital image, please contact the Picture Library.
Date made 1875

Artist/Maker Gleichen, Victor
Place made London
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials marble
Measurements Overall: 703 mm x 580 mm x 340 mm x 134 kg
  • Edward Brailsford Bright, 1831-91 (SCU0069)
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