Sir Thomas Lawrence
Sir Thomas Lawrence was a one of Britain’s leading portrait painters in the 19th century. Born in Bristol, Lawrence was first introduced as a predominantly self-taught child prodigy whose debut was made in Oxford as an accomplished crayon portrait artist gained him a good reputation and many patrons. Around 1786, his developing interest in painting lead him to enroll in courses at the Royal Academy. In 1794, he joined as a member of the Academy, and in 1972, on the death of Lawrence’s influence, artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, he was appointed principal painter to King George III. His famous painting of Queen Charlotte was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1789, where it was highly received for its likeness despite displeasing the royal family. Sir Lawrence was knighted in 1815. Three years later he traveled to Aachen to paint the gathering diplomats, then continued on to Vienna and Rome. Lawrence was elected as president of the Academy on the day of his return to England, following the death of Benjamin West.
Lawrence enjoyed both professional and social success. He benefitted from the patronage of John Julius and Elizabeth Angerstein, who were successful English merchants in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They began collecting art with the help of Lawrence -himself a collector, most notably of Old Master drawings- and their collection was purchased by the British government and formed the nucleus of the National Gallery of Art in London