Lawrence, Sir Thomas–#AtoZChallenge “L”

Welcome to “L” in the A to Z Challenge 2017. The 1st Duke of Wellington is my theme for this year’s Challenge.

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) was the painter of the most well-known portrait of the 1st Duke of Wellington:

Portrait of the Duke of Wellington, 1817, Sir Thomas Lawrence, oil on canvas, Wellington Collection, Apsley House, London

From the English Heritage Apsley House website:

The most iconic portrait of Wellington by the celebrated regency painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. Wellington disliked sitting for portraits, but he respected Lawrence and they became friends. Wellington commands the canvas, the very embodiment of military sang-froid. For all its military overtones this was commissioned as a gift for a lady, Marianne Patterson, a wealthy American heiress whom Wellington greatly admired.

Another portrait of Wellington as listed by Christie’s in 2006:

 Portrait of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, K.G., K.B., M.P. (1769-1852), bust-length, in civilian clothes with a military cloak, wearing the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, oil on unlined canvas, 30 x 25½ in.

On the back of this work was an inscription: ‘An admirable likeness. Charles Arbuthnot 13[?]th… 1821[?]’ 

Lawrence was born in Bristol and grew up mainly in Bath. His father was an innkeeper and the family moved a few times when Lawrence was young. His parents had 16 children, but only 5 of these children survived infancy. When he was quite young, Lawrence began supporting his parents through his pastel portraits. He moved to London eventually, moving his parents and establishing them in their own home there. He moved to a number of studios in town and finally settled in his parents home after they died. Lawrence never married but was said to always be in love and in debt. He didn’t spend money on gambling, drinking, drugs, or any other vices, he simply was generous to family and friends and spent money on art. His career was set when he was given a commission to paint Queen Caroline and her daughter Charlotte. Lawrence lived to be 60 years old.

Following is an engraving after a self-portrait by Lawrence:

Self Portrait, engraved by J. Worthington (engraving) (b/w photo) by Lawrence, Sir Thomas, Private Collection

Previous A to Z Challenge 2017 posts:

Apsley House



Douro, Marquess of

Eton College

Fraser, Hugh

  6 comments for “Lawrence, Sir Thomas–#AtoZChallenge “L”

  1. April 14, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    Hello fellow A-to-Zer! The Iron Duke, eh? An excellent choice! I am looking forward to reading all of your posts about this fascinating fellow and the people around him. In this post, I like that Sir Thomas Lawrence was “said to always be in love and in debt.” Did the one thing lead to the other? Fancy Gifts and Entertaining?
    Thanks for writing this excellent post!
    Melanie Atherton Allen

    • April 15, 2017 at 7:48 AM

      Hi, Melanie! Thank you so much for the comment and kudos. I knew nothing about Sir Lawrence before the Challenge, except that he was a great portraitist. He seemed to have been a good guy generally, born a commoner and painting royalty. I would think being in love with wealthy women such as actress Sarah Siddons’ daughters, Sally and Maria, did lead to extra expenses! I would love to read more about Sir Thomas. Cheers, Denise

  2. hilarymb
    April 15, 2017 at 3:16 AM

    Hi Denise – it always amazes me how talented artists are … wonderful drawing, beautiful painting … the detail given to us for posterity – lovely. Fascinating he was so generous to all … he loved his art and was passionate in all aspects … He’s a great find and left us a wonderful legacy. Cheers Hilary

    • April 15, 2017 at 7:51 AM

      I know what you mean about talented artists, Hilary. Yes, we are lucky to have artists like Sir Thomas to help us remember historical greats such as the Duke and a huge number of other people of the day. And to think he was supporting his family when he was very young. Happy Saturday, Denise

  3. May 9, 2017 at 11:40 AM

    Love and art is what drove people to the poor house in the old days…….now it’s health care and cable TV bills.

    • May 9, 2017 at 3:01 PM

      And bloated rightwing Cheetos. 😉

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