John Philip Kemble
Photographer Hugh Kelly; © Joseph Friedman Ltd; collection National Portrait Gallery, London
John Philip Kemble
by Sir Thomas Lawrence
oil on canvas, 1812
105 1/4 in. x 71 5/8 in. (2672 mm x 1818 mm)
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, Gift Aid visitor ticket donations and the Garrick Club, 2009
Artistback to top
- Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), Portrait painter, collector and President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 686 portraits, Sitter in 25 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This is an example of a 'half-history painting' which explored the relationship between portraiture and history painting. It shows Kemble in the leading role in Addison's Cato performing a soliloquy related to Plato's Book on the Immortality of the Soul. With the dagger glinting on the table, and tension pulsating through his veins, Cato prepares to take his own life rather than suffer the indignity of defeat.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Essay by Richard Holmes, Thomas Lawrence Portraits, 2010 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 21 October 2010 - 23 January 2011), p. 51
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Thomas Lawrence Portraits (21 October 2010 - 23 January 2011)
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1812back to top
Current affairsPrime Minister Spencer Perceval is assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons by a bankrupt named John Bellingham. A new administration is formed under Lord Liverpool.
The Toleration Act is passed giving greater freedom of worship to dissenters in order to ensure their political loyalty.
Art and scienceActress Sarah Siddons retires from the London stage. Her final appearance is as Lady Macbeth, the role that made her famous, but the performance has to end after the sleepwalking scene because of the fervour of the audience.
Building of Regent's Canal begins under John Rennie.
InternationalUnited States declares war on Britain over grievances arising from British naval conduct in the French wars. American plan for attack on Canada fails and British troops under Sir Edward Pakenham force surrender of Detroit.
Wellington defeats French at Salamanca and enters Madrid.
Napoleon leads France in disastrous Russian campaign.
See this portrait
On display in Room 19 at the National Portrait Gallery
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer