|detail of Catherine Grey, Lady Manners|
The other portrait I find less than flattering is this view of Robert Banks Jenkinson, later the 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1770-1828). Again, the head-on view does not compliment him. He seems to be frowning and his lip is slightly curled, almost as if beginning a sneer. This painting dates from 1793-96 when Lawrence was doing many statesmen and politicians, and flattering many of them. Another Lawrence picture (not in this exhibition) of Lord Liverpool done 33 years later, portrays him as less confrontational yes equally sure of himself.
At right, Lord Liverpool in 1826 as Prime Minister, in the National Portrait Gallery (not in the Yale exhibition)
This drawing of Isabella Wolff (c.1771-1829) is one of many Lawrence did of his close friend Mrs. Wolff. The exhibition catalogue cautions us not to consider these sketches are preliminary to the oil portrait below, though there are similarities for sure.
Isabella Wolff and Thomas Lawrence remained dear friends for many years, and were sometimes suspected of being lovers. For more on Lawrence's love life, go backward in this blog to Jo Manning's essays on January 8, 9, and 10th, 2011.
This is probably the first Thomas Lawrence canvas I saw as a child. At the Art Institute of Chicago, it was my favorite picture. Maybe it still is.
As one of the reviews of the exhibition said, many of us became more than familiar with some Lawrence images because we saw them on biscuit tins and other ads or labels. Or in multiple prints, even paint-by-number sets.This charming view of a thoughtful (or bored) little boy is one of those biscuit tin portraits -- you've seen it a million times, though you can't remember quite where. This is Charles William Lambton, painted in 1825, now in a private collection. Charles was about seven in the portrait and he died just six years later at age thirteen. That gives a distinct poignant twist to this familiar face.
Another very familiar picture, The Calmady Children (Laura Anne and Emily), is included in the show, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This pose too, can be found "everywhere." And it is not hard to see why. Thomas Lawrence was wonderful with children. Though he had none of his own, never having married, he captured the innocence and joy of childhood in a magical way. A picture not in this exhibition, usually known as Pinkie, is probably THE most famous, most reproduced, used and mis-used of Lawrence's work.
Pinkie is a portrait of Sarah Barrett Moulton painted in 1794. It can be seen at the Huntington Library and Museum of Art in San Marino, CA. It is often shown with a Gainsborough portrait called Blue Boy. (Again, this picture is not in the Yale exhibition.) I actually think I've seen Pinkie on a tea towel.To conclude part one of our visit to the exhibition, here is a lovely family group, another in Lawrence's bravura style. The beautiful lady and her son, heir to a great title, with their faithful dog in a scene that will be a family heirloom forever. But wait!!! This is a portrait of Mrs. Frances Hawkins and her Son, John James Hamilton, painted in 1805-6.
Mrs. Hawkins was a mistress of the imperious 1st Marquess of Abercorn and young John was his son by her. He had several other children by his three wives. Nevertheless, the picture was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1806. One London newspaper found it "deficient in sobriety and simplicity." Another commented that the dog was too big and disliked the view through the circular wall.
Diane Gaston and I want to thank Amy McDonald and Kaci Bayless for their assistance and hospitality at the Yale Center for British Art. Everyone was cheerful, helpful and welcoming. We wish we could have attended one of the many programs accompanying the exhibition. They are listed on-line if you click here. For more information on the exhibition, click here.
Diane has blogged on our visit and you can find her report here.
I will be back with lots more about Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance in days to come. Remember, the closing date is June 5, so make your plans to visit New Haven soon.
Labels: Artists, Victoria Hinshaw