Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830 )

Sir Thomas Lawrence was one of the foremost English portrait painters of his day. He was born in Bristol. A child prodigy, he was largely self-taught, although he spent some time at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1789 Lawrence won recognition for his portrait of an actress, Miss Farren (1789, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City). He became much in demand, and in 1792 he succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as principal painter to King George III, who knighted Lawrence in 1815. Lawrence was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1794 and served as president of the academy from 1820 to 1830.

Lawrence was a brilliant stylist and technician, whose vitality, rich color, and dramatic silhouettes anticipated romantic painting. Although uneven in quality, his work at its best is marked by a taste and elegance that lends distinction to the portraits of his sitters. These portraits include Lady Peel (1827, Frick Collection, New York City); Pope Pius VII and Archduke Charles of Austria (Waterloo Chamber, Windsor Castle); and The Calmady Children (1825, Metropolitan Museum). Lawrence was the first English painter to achieve success in Europe. With Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough he stands at the apex of English portrait art.

SOURCE: Microsoft Encart "Bio: Sir Thomas Lawrence" 1997

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