Thomas Lawrence Biography | Oil Paintings
4-13-1769 Bristol, ENG – 1-7-1830 London, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Thomas Lawrence (the artist) was self-taught and by the age of ten, he was already supporting his family with his pastel portraits of the wealthy locals in Bath. At eighteen years of age, having self-studied how to paint in oils, he felt he was ready for more expensive portrait commissions, so he went to London and soon established his reputation as a portrait painter. In 1790, after spending three years in London, he was twenty-one years old when he got his first royal portrait commission of Queen Charlotte. The following year he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1794 he became a full member.
Although Thomas Lawrence painted group and personal portraits, he did paint one historical oil painting Homer Reciting his Poems and one mythological oil painting Satan Summoning his Legions in the mid-1790's. He was a splendid artist and known for his drawing, able to capture the sitter's likeness with uncanny ease. As his reputation increased so did the request for reproductions of his portraits, which the sitters would give as gifts. So, to keep up with the increasing demand for replicas of his portraits, he used assistants in his art studio, including the young William Etty and George Henry Harlow.
In 1818, Thomas Lawrence made a nine month trip to Austria to paint the allied leaders, at the conference of Vienna, known as the Waterloo Chamber series. His sitters included Tsar Alexander, Emperor Francis I of Austria, the King of Prussia, Field-Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg, Archduke Charles of Austria and his wife, and a young Napoleon II. In 1819, he left Vienna for Italy to paint Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Consalvi in Rome.
During the nineteenth century Thomas Lawrence's oil paintings were more popular in France and the United States than in his native Britain, and in the early twentieth century, some of his best-known portraits, including Elizabeth Farren, Sarah Barrett Moulton, and the Red Boy ended up in the United States.
Thomas Lawrence Miserable with Money and Love.
In spite of the fact that he was never at a loss for work, and stayed productive until his death, Thomas Lawrence was always in financial difficulties and his obligations stayed with him until his death, he avoided bankruptcy and he borrowed money from well off clients and companions to give to his family and others, he did not keep records of his money, he bought expensive drawings of Old Masters and he lavished on Sally and Maria to buy their affections, he died broke.
Another source of despondency in Lawrence's life was his convoluted associations with two of the actress Sarah Siddons' daughters. Mrs. Siddon has written that Lawrence was attracted first to Maria. Historians think that it is the other way around, they are wrong. First, he fell in love first with the younger Maria, then changed and fell in love with her sister Sally, then broke off with Sally and returned to Maria. Neither girl would have anything to do with Lawrence after that. Maria died when she was twenty-four years old and Sally when she was twenty-nine. Thomas Lawrence never married.
Art Movement: Neoclassicism.
He Traveled To France, Austria, Italy.
Painters Thomas Lawrence Influenced: William Etty, George Henry Harlow.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.