Gallery Tour: Representing the Rising


Meet David Osmond and Ray Stroud Curators of the Exhibition "Representing the Rising: Chartism and Art in Newport"


10.30am at Newport Museum and Art Gallery on Wednesday 10th January 2024. This will be the final guided gallery tour of this exhibition before it closes 13 Jan.




Admission Free


Exhibition Catalogue available £10p+p


Original Press release

The Newport Rising of 1839 has captured the imagination of the inhabitants of Gwent for many years.


It was the last large-scale armed insurrection in Britain, instigated by Welsh Chartists demanding the right to vote, and resulted in the deaths of at least 22 Chartists. It also led to the last mass treason trial in British history, which was held at Monmouth. John Frost, Zephaniah Williams, and William Jones were eventually transported to Tasmania, while five others were imprisoned in London’s Millbank Penitentiary, all having initially received death sentences for their involvement in the Rising. It was an event that shocked the entire nation and was seen as, perhaps, the greatest challenge to the integrity and confidence of early Victorian society.


For the first time, all the major pieces of art that depict these events have been brought together in one exhibition. ‘Representing the Rising: Chartism and Art in Newport’ will be available for the public to view from 14 October at Newport’s Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition will run until 13 January 2024. Two local historians, David Osmond and Ray Stroud, have divided the exhibition into three main sections. Each section features a range of representations of the Rising, consciously balancing the differing political positions taken, both at the time, and since the Chartist attack on Newport. Without doubt, in the early nineteenth century, this was a debate that served to highlight the many contradictions and divisions in Welsh society.

The first section, ‘The Scene’ contains a number of depictions of the battle at the Westgate, painted or drawn in the aftermath of the Rising, together with works showing other relevant sites. The most famous of these is, probably, James Mullock’s lithograph of the event, produced in 1840. Mullock had actually witnessed the Chartists arriving at the Westgate from an upstairs room across the road. A drawing of Monmouth Shire Hall, the scene of the trial, and a watercolour of the Friars, home of anti-Chartist Octavius Morgan, complete this section.

The second section, ‘Portraits’ presents a number of contemporary portrayals of the main participants of the Rising, and includes a freshly-restored portrait of Lieutenant Basil Gray, the man who commanded the soldiers inside the Westgate Inn on that day in November 1839. It is the first time in many years that this portrait, originally purchased by the Museum in 1884, has been on public display.


The last section, ‘Commemoration’, features a selection of work from the last 70 years by artists who continue to respond to the Newport Rising in diverse ways. The images on view here include some recent works, with pictures, for example, by graphic illustrator, Josh Cranton, and the tattoo artist, Miss Rie. A new acquisition, ‘Solidarity – the Chartists’ a sculpture by Harry Iles, will also feature amongst these exhibits.


It is hoped that all of the pieces of art on display, together with the historical interpretations that they reveal, will serve to remind the public of the importance of the Rising, not only to Newport, but also to British history in its widest sense.


Entry to view the exhibition is free. A full-colour catalogue of the exhibition will be available for purchase at the museum, priced £10.



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