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Sir Thomas Lawrence, Emily Anderson: Little Red Riding Hood

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Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 1769–1830, English portrait painter, b. Bristol. He began to draw when very young. In 1787, on his first visit to London, he met Sir Joshua Reynolds, who encouraged the development of his work. Lawrence studied for a short time at the Royal Academy. His reputation was established with the exhibition in 1790 of his portrait of Elizabeth Farren, the actress (Metropolitan Mus.). He soon won royal patronage, and after the deaths of Reynolds and Hoppner he became the fashionable portrait painter of his day. He succeeded Reynolds as painter in ordinary to the king, became an Academician, and was knighted in 1815. After the fall of Napoleon, Lawrence was sent by George IV to the conference at Aix-la-Chapelle to paint the dignitaries assembled there (portraits in Waterloo Gall., Windsor Castle, England). In Austria and Italy he made portraits of state and Church officials and, upon his return to England in 1820, he succeeded Benjamin West as president of the Royal Academy. Among the best of his portraits of children are the group The Calmady Children (Metropolitan Mus.), and the celebrated Pinkie (Henry E. Huntington Gall., San Marino, Calif.). A number of his works were hurriedly executed to alleviate financial pressure and were imperfectly finished. Among the best-known of his numerous works are portraits of Mrs. Siddons, Benjamin West, and Princess Lieven (National Gall., London) and those of George IV and Princess Caroline (National Portrait Gall., London). Examples of his portraiture are in the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection, New York City, and in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Used with permission. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press