Like the Veronese chronicled in Watson's Wisdom and Strength and the Van Gogh in Saltzman's Portrait of Dr Cachet, Sully's Byron has had its fair share of adventures. Though the painting has been virtually unknown for nearly two centuries, the artist who created it has left behind numerous traces in the historical record. My investigation took me down many unexpected byways, as I sought out information about the portrait's owners,

·several of whom played a part on the national scene, and tried to understand what had prompted them to acquire - and relinquish - Byron.