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Sarah Trimmer

6 of 689 portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Sarah Trimmer, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, circa 1790 -NPG 5498 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sarah Trimmer

by Sir Thomas Lawrence
circa 1790
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
NPG 5498

This portraitback to top

Mrs Trimmer's published journal unfortunately ends in 1797 but in any case it is unlikely she would have mentioned, amid the welter of self-abasement, anything as worldly as a sitting with Lawrence. Sir Walter Armstrong, Lawrence, 1913, p 166 places the sitting at about 1800, Kenneth Garlick, ‘Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence’ in Walpole Society Journal, XXXIX, 1964, p 187 prefers the early 1790s. Her apparent age of about 60 would favour the region of 1790. The severity of her expression suggests the years 1791-2 when she lost a daughter aged 5, a son of 16, her father aged 88, and her husband James Trimmer suddenly early in the morning (Journal, 22 May 1792). She appears in mourning habit in an engraving of 1798. Oliver Raymond's sale catalogue of 1889 states that 'The picture was taken from Sir Thomas's house in Russell Square when he died, and purchased at the time by the late Mr Raymond. Mrs Trimmer was an old friend of the artist and used to visit him in early life. The dress of the portrait suggests an air of age which the fashion of that time was wont to give …'. There is no mention of the portrait in Lawrence's executor's list.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head and shoulders facing aged about 60, in brown dress, voluminous white fichu, high white cap; grey hair, dark blue-green eyes, fresh smooth complexion, very red lips; plain drab background.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Thomas Lawrence; Rev Oliver Raymond and his sale at Middleton Rectory near Sudbury, 6 November 1889 (391 with Lawrence's palette knife) bought Agnew; Christie's 28 March 1908 (124, still with the palette knife) bought Fuller; Christie's 16 April 1982 without the palette knife), property of a gentleman bought by Colnaghi and from them by the NPG 1982.


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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