Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. 1769 - 1830
Self-portrait of Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A.
Photo: R.A.
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Self-portrait of Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A., ca. 1825
Oil on canvas, 910 X 714 mm
Purchased from George Stanhope, 7th Earl Of Chesterfield, 3 April 1867
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Probably begun before Lawrence left for Paris in 1825, this unfinished self-portrait may be the one commanded by George IV, in which he is supposed to have suggested that the artist wear ‘the costume of his Doctor-of-laws gown’ but not the cap as ‘we shall not recognise you without your bald head.’ If so, Lawrence has rather pointedly decided to portray himself instead in everyday clothes and to employ no props to embellish or elevate his image. The greatest portrait painter of his generation, Lawrence became increasingly reluctant to paint himself – the only other known self-portraits in oil date from the 1780s (The Berger Collection, Denver Art Museum and Private Collection). This portrait, painted when Lawrence was in his 50s, shows the artist dramatically emerging from a dark background and is painted with all the technical virtuosity for which he was famed throughout Europe.

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