Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sir Thomas Lawrence

He was the most successful portrait painter of his age. He might be said to have added a rather theatrical Byronic quality to his eighteenth-century masters long before Byron himself captured London in words. Much of our rather romantic attitude towards the Regency probably owes something to the impression Lawrence’s portraits have left with us.

Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington by Thomas Lawrence.

Born in Bristol in 1769 and studied for a short time at the Royal Academy. His reputation was established with the exhibition in 1790 of his portrait of the actress Elizabeth Farren. He soon won royal patronage, and after the deaths of Reynolds and Hoppner he became the fashionable portrait painter of his day.

Elizabeth Farren

His portraits of women are models of beauty and elegance, whether the sitter be a tragic actress, a social figure like one of the many Princesses who sat for him, or a personal friend.

Portrait of The Fullerton Sisters

At the close of the Napoleonic Wars, Lawrence was knighted and commissioned to paint the leading sovereigns and statesmen of Europe. When he returned to England in 1820, he was elected president of the Royal Academy; he handled the affairs of his office with tact and urbanity. He died on Jan. 7, 1830.

Master Charles William Lambton Sir Lawrence Opus Magnum

Following the English masters of the 18th century, Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and George Romney, Lawrence carried on the great tradition of society portraiture and raised it to new heights of dash and elegance, though not of psychological penetration. He was by no means an artist of the astonishing insight of Gainsborough, and he did not have the occasionally disconcerting originality of Reynolds and still his work had merit.

The Calmady Children

Lawrence's work had their faults: all were affected by the distorting demands of their fashionable clientele, and all succumbed to them. He had the least to say, and he reflected his sitters' own best views of themselves, yet even they must sometimes have been surprised at their own magnificence. Handsome his portraits undoubtedly are; all the women are strikingly beautiful, the men brave and distinguished.

Sir Thomas Portrait Arthur Atherley

Lawrence enjoyed his great success. He lived for his work, never married, and was a prodigious worker. He was of an exceptionally generous nature, as an artist and as a man, with a rare talent for appreciating and encouraging the talents of others. He was an ardent collector of Old Master drawings; his collection, which was dispersed after his death, was the largest and best that has ever been formed in England.

I would have liked knowing him, I'm sure.

My love my care,


  1. Hello,
    you have a wonderful blog here. I also love art, cooking and nature.
    Keep up the good work and good luck in all that you do!

  2. Certainly the Fullerton girls were not quite as Lawrence painted them, but what's wrong with a little flattery now and again?

    Beautiful pictures Simone. Your page is a gallery in itself!

    Bisou, Cro.

  3. those sisters... like you could reach out and touch her face...

  4. Such amazing portraits!

    I can't decide which painting I love more, the Fullerton sisters or Arthur Atherley. :-)

  5. thanks for stopping by Novel Discussions! come back soon.


  6. These paintings always make me want to travel back in time.

  7. Oh,HOW gorgeous are these´s absolutely to stay and to admire Him!-)*


  8. Dearest Simone.
    Your blog is transporting, a welcome escape from oil spills and the ugly reality of day to day life.
    Have you considered submitting your written endeavors to a publishing house in England? They are far more receptive to historical romance novels there.
    Uh, forgive me for publicly correcting you but you should probably spell "Americian" correctly in your intro if you want to garner favor with the "American" publishing world.
    I suspect you have alienated them from the get go with this typo.
    Relax, for several months I called myself an Illustratorator" on my blog when I meant to write "illustrator". Typos happen when we are caught up in the enthusiasm of writing.
    I would love to read a passage from one of your novels.
    Never give up on your dreams.
    Your sister is right about that homoerotic painting, it could not be gayer, who cares?
    Continue to embrace all that is beautiful in life, follow your heart's desire and enjoy being alive. I think you are marvelous.
    X David, NYC