Thomas Lawrence  
Thomas Lawrence

Thomas Lawrence, Self-portrait, 1788

Sir Thomas Lawrence, (born April 13, 1769, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.—died Jan. 7, 1830, London), painter and draftsman who was the most fashionable English portrait painter of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

He was the son of an innkeeper who owned the Black Bear at Devizes, where the young Lawrence won a reputation as a prodigy for his profile portraits in pencil of guests. Later he began to work in pastel, and in 1780, when his family moved to Bath, he set up professionally. He had little regular education or artistic training, but was working in oils by the time he moved to London in 1787. There he studied at the Royal Academy schools for a short time and was given encouragement by Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was handsome, charming, and exceptionally gifted. His early success was phenomenal, and when he was 20 years of age he was summoned to Windsor to paint the portrait, later widely acclaimed, of Queen Charlotte. He was elected associate of the Royal Academy in 1791 and academician in 1794.

Lawrence was a highly skilled draftsman. He soon abandoned pastels but continued to make portraits in pencil and chalks. These were separate commissions and were rarely studies for paintings, as it was his usual practice to make a careful drawing of the head and sometimes the whole composition on the canvas itself and to paint over it. There are highly interesting references to his working methods in Joseph Farington’s Diary.

After the death of Reynolds, Lawrence was the leading English portrait painter. His works exhibit a fluid touch, rich colour, and great ability to realize textures. He presented his sitters in a dramatic, sometimes theatrical, manner that produced Romantic portraiture of a high order. After the death of John Hoppner in 1810 he was patronized by the Prince Regent, who knighted him in 1815 and sent him in 1818 to the political congresses of Aix-la-Chapelle and Vienna, where he painted 24 large full-length portraits of the military leaders and heads of state of the Holy Alliance. Executed with verve and elegance, these works now hang together in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle—a unique historical document of the period. By these works Lawrence was recognized as the foremost portrait painter of Europe. On his return to England in 1820 he was elected president of the Royal Academy.

Lawrence was also a distinguished connoisseur. His collection of old-master drawings was one of the finest ever assembled, and he was instrumental in securing the collection of Greek sculptures known as the Elgin Marbles for the nation and in the founding of the National Gallery.

Encyclopædia Britannica


The Two Sons of the 1st Earl of Talbot
Oil on canvas, 228 x 213 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Portrait of Canova
Oil on canvas, 58 x 49 cm
Private collection

Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Conyngham
Oil on canvas, 91 x 71 cm
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Lady Constance Carruthers

Portrait Of The Duke Of Wellington

Maria, wife of Sir William Oglander

The Daughters of Colonel Thomas Carteret Hardy
oil on canvas
Cleveland Museum of Art

Elisabeth Farren, Later Countess of Derby
oil on canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Mr and Mrs John Julius Angerstein
Oil on canvas, 252 x 160 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris


Portrait of the Children of John Angerstein
Oil on canvas, 194 x 144 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Queen Charlotte
Oil on canvas, 239 x 147 cm
National Gallery, London

Miss Martha Carry
c. 1789
Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Margaret, Countess of Blessington
Oil on canvas, 91 x 67 cm
Wallace Collection, London

Diana Sturt, Lady Milner
Oil on canvas, 78 x 65 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Pope Pius VII
Oil on canvas, 269 x 178 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor

Philadelphia Hannah, First Viscountess Cremorne
Tate Gallery at London

Portrait of William Lock
oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass

Mrs. Siddons
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery, London


Portrait of Count Mikhail Vorontsov

Portrait of Mrs. Wolff
oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago

The Fluyder Children
oil on canvas
Museum of Art, Sao Paolo

Mrs. Henry Baring and her Children

The Calmady Children
oil on canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Miss Caroline Fry
oil on canvas
Tate Gallery at London

The Prince Regent [later George IV] of England

The Angerstein Children

Conde S. R. Vorontsov

Dama de la familia Storer

David Lyon

John Fane, X Conde de Westmoreland

Mrs. Isaac Cuthbert


Portrait of Alexander I
Black and red chalk, 498 x 351 mm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Portrait of a Princess

Portrait Of The Hon, George Fane, Later Lord Burghersh, When A Boy

Portrait Of George Nugent Grenville, Lord Nugent

A Gypsy Girl

Portrait of the Honorable Mrs. Seymour Bathurst, 1828

Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.