Friday, 22 August 2014

The Many Women of Sir Thomas Lawrence

Considered by many to be the finest portrait painter of the Georgian era, the future (Sir) Thomas Lawrence was the son of a relatively humble Innkeeper in Devizes, Wiltshire who had honed his talent as an artist whilst still a child by offering to sketch customers at a sovereign a time.

In 1787, aged 18, he moved to London where his prodigious talent was quickly recognised, so much so that within five years of arriving in the city he was appointed "painter-in-ordinary to His Majesty", and with Royal sanction came both a Knighthood and the commissions of the great and good of English society.

Lawrence was make a great deal of money during his lifetime but spent it so readily that he was never a rich man and was indeed rarely out of debt.

He was also to become as famous the sexual dalliances he had with the many beautiful women who sat for him as the portraits of them he had been paid to produce, which as a postscript I feel obliged to add does not appear to occur in the dusty and dimly lit corridors of historical research.

He died on 7 January, 1830, aged 60, unmarried, broke and pursued by his creditors.

In the Victorian era that followed his art was largely forgotten and neglected only being rediscovered in the early twentieth century. Many of his portraits now reside in the National Gallery:

Marguerite, Countess of Blessington


The Honourable, Mrs Seymour Bathurst

Lady Louisa Jayne Allen

The notorious, Lady Caroline Lamb

Lady Frances Gordon

Lady Anna Powell

Lady Henrietta Cole

Maria, Lady Callcott

Lady Maria Riddell

 Miss Caroline Fry

Mrs Cecilia Locke

Sarah Siddons

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