British Minister to the United States Richard Lyons


Richard Bickerton Pemell Lyons (1817–87) was a British naval officer and diplomat. He was the British minister in Washington, DC, during the American Civil War. He is most famous for conducting the negotiations between the United States and Great Britain during the Trent affair, which in 1861 nearly brought war between the two countries. Confederate diplomats James Murray Mason and John Slidell were on their way to Europe aboard the British mail steamer Trent when the ship was intercepted by U.S. naval forces. Mason and Slidell were detained for a time at Fort Warren in Boston harbor, but Lyons negotiated a diplomatic resolution and the men eventually were released and allowed to continue their journey. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: January 8, 2018