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Sir Thomas Lawrence

1769 – 1830

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) was one of the leading portrait painters of the Georgian era. The son of a Bristol innkeeper, Lawrence was precociously talented and by age 10 his pastel portraits were the main source of his family's income. By the time he was 13, his family had settled in Bath, where Lawrence earned a good income from portraits of the spa town's fashionable inhabitants. Soon after, he began painting in oils and went to London, enrolling in the Royal Academy in 1787. With the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1792, Lawrence became the most sought-after portraitist in England. Appointed principal painter to the courts of George III and George IV, his sitters included numerous British royals and those of Europe, as well as many of society's notables, including Joseph Banks, Lord Melbourne and the Duke of Wellington. The National Portrait Gallery, London, which holds numerous examples of his work, describes Lawrence as having 'the temperament and flair to capture the glamour of the age … with dazzling brushwork and an innovative use of colour.' He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1794 and was knighted in 1815.

The National Portrait Gallery has eight prints made after paintings by Lawrence, representing such figures as Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool; the Rt Honorable Lord Hawkesbury; and William Lamb, Baron Melbourne.

Updated 2018