|Although Thomas Lawrence worked pre-eminently as a portrait painter, his Diploma work is a subject painting, possibly because of an unwritten rule that portraits could not be accepted as Diploma works at this time. In the 18th Century scenes like this, of everyday life, often including peasant or beggar children, were called ‘fancy’ pictures. Lawrence’s Gipsy Girl is not as innocent as she sometimes appears in such works however, in that she is shown here carrying off a chicken, while in the distance an irate farmer gives chase.|
It has been suggested that the model for the gipsy girl was Maria Siddons, the younger daughter of the tragic actress Sarah Siddons. During the 1790s Lawrence was supposedly engaged to Mrs. Siddons’ eldest daughter Sally, but somehow contrived to fall in love with Maria as well.