Thomas Lawrence's studios and studio practice

This study of the portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), President of the Royal Academy, documents his studios, studio practice and approach to painting, his use of materials and his canvas and colour suppliers. It has been produced on the occasion of the exhibition, Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2010-11, but goes beyond the portraits in the exhibition. A related feature is available on Thomas Lawrence and picture framing.

It is hoped to develop this study further. Please provide feedback to Jacob Simon at jsimon@npg.org.uk.

1. Lawrence’s studios
From Leicester Square to Greek Street, 1787-1813
Russell Square, 1814-30

2. Lawrence at work
Painting a portrait

The role of drawing

Catching a likeness

Studio arrangements

Finishing a portrait
Advice on preservation and display
Ideas on copyright
Competition at the Royal Academy

3. Lawrence’s materials and processes
Canvases and canvas suppliers
Panels
Colours and Lawrence’s palette
Colour suppliers
Paint media
Brushes and brush suppliers
Varnishing
 

Appendix: Lawrence’s account with Roberson’s

 

Acknowledgements and works cited in brief
This study draws on publications by the author, Jacob Simon, namely two website directories, British artists’ suppliers (2006, revised 2008) and British picture restorers (2009). Sally Woodcock kindly transcribed entries from the Roberson Archive and provided other information. Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell and Lucy Peltz, curators of the exhibition, Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance, have provided information and advice. Punctuation and capitalisation in quotations have generally been modernised. Uncredited illustrations and trade catalogues are from the author's collection.

Cunningham 1833: Allan Cunningham, The Lives of the most eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects, vol.6, 1833, pp.155-271.

Farington: K. Cave, K. Garlick and A. MacIntyre (eds), The Diary of Joseph Farington, 16 vols, 1978-84.

Gage 2001: John Gage, ‘A Romantic Colourman: George Field and British art’, Walpole Society, vol.63, 2001, pp.1-73.

Garlick 1989: Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence: A complete catalogue of the oil paintings, 1989.

Hardie 1904: Martin Hardie, 'Sittings at Sir Thomas Lawrence's: The Curious History of a Picture', Magazine of Art, vol.2, 1904, pp.265-71.

Lawrence 2010: A. Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell and Lucy Peltz, Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance, 2010.

Layard 1906: George Somes Layard, Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Letter-bag, 1906 (including Elizabeth Croft’s ‘Recollections of Sir Thomas Lawrence’, pp.241-91).

Walker 1985: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits. National Portrait Gallery, 1985.

Williams 1831: D.E. Williams, Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Kt, 2 vols, 1831 (for the circumstances in which Thomas Campbell passed the commission for this biography to Williams, and for the role of Richard Evans, Lawrence’s pupil, in providing information, see Layard 1906 pp.235-9).