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Thomas Campbell

2 of 20 portraits of Thomas Campbell

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Campbell

by Sir Thomas Lawrence
circa 1820
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
NPG 198

This portraitback to top

Campbell and Lawrence first met in October 1808 at Wynell Mayow's house in Sydenham and Lawrence's portrait was commissioned shortly afterwards, according to a cutting from a printed catalogue (probably of Thompson's sale of effects) pasted on the reverse of the strainer: Sir Thomas Lawrence/163. The original Portrait of Thomas Campbell The eminent Poet * * This interesting portrait was painted expressly for the late Mr Thompson. The canvas was stamped with the maker's name: T. Brown High Holborn, LINEN//333/16/10. Both cutting and stamp have disappeared but they are confirmed in a letter from Campbell's nephew Alexander dated 8 May 1876 to Scharf (NPG archive). Campbell's letter to 'dear F.' thanking him for making the arrangements with Lawrence is dated 26 January 1811 (William Beattie, Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell, 1849, II, p 200). Lawrence's preliminary drawing is in the Scottish NPG and appeared as an engraving by S. Freeman for The Monthly Mirror, May 1809 and again in December 1812 in Cadell's Contemporary Portraits. In Lawrence's oil, NPG 198, Campbell appears to be at least ten years older than in the drawing. He may even be wearing a wig. According to Beattie 'his wigs were always nicely adjusted and scarcely distinguishable from natural hair' (William Beattie, Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell, 1849, III, p 415). His age appears to be about 40 and Lawrence may have painted him c.1815-20. The first engraving of it was used as frontispiece to the Poetical Works, 1828.
Copies: (1) belonging to Henry Colburn, Campbell's London publisher, and later to Campbell's nephew Archibald (letters from Alexander Campbell and the Duke of Buccleuch in registered packet in NPG archive 198). (2) said to have been painted for Mr Boyd, Campbell's Edinburgh publishers, and sold Sotheby's (Charles Stodart) 27 June 1951 (63). (3) Christie's 17 May 1927 (144) and American Art Association, New York (Simon sale) 4 April 1929 (78), wearing olive green coat and on both occasions attributed to G. H. Harlow.

Physical descriptionback to top

Three-quarter-length seated in a dark brown fur-trimmed tail-coat, white neckcloth and cravat, his left hand resting on a paper on table; black curly hair or wig, grey eyes, aged about 40; red curtain background.

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned by James Thompson of Clitheroe c.1809 and his sale c.1865; Duke of Buccleuch who gave it to the NPG in June 1865 'as a donation from me to the collection of National Portraits'.

Exhibitionsback to top

Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1868 (284) lent by the NPG.

Reproductionsback to top

Steel line engraving by Burnet as frontispiece to Campbell's Poetical Works, 1828; mezzotint by S. & H. Cousins published 1834; line engraving by Robinson, 1848, as frontispiece to Beattie's Life and Letters.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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