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King George IV (1762-1830) as Prince Regent

Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (Bristol 1769 – London 1830) and Studio

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1815 (after) - 1830

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

2540 x 1178 mm (100 x 70 in)

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Knole, Kent (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Knole, Kent, London and South East, National Trust

NT 129733

Caption

This picture, an unconventional state portrait, is believed to be, to quote the art historian, K. Garlick ‘a repetition of the portrait for which the Regent sat in 1814, and which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1815’. Lawrence owed the commission to Lord Stewart (1778-1854, later 3rd Marquess of Londonderry), who wrote to the artist in July 1814, advising that: ‘The Prince has fix’d tomorrow, about 2 o’clock, for me to accompany him to see yr. Portraits, and perhaps to sit […] you had best be prepared’. This would be the first portrait of George IV that Lawrence would paint, although at least four other versions followed. The present example is thought to have been painted for Earl Whitworth (1752-1825), a friend of John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (1745-1799).

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, King George IV (1762-1830) as Prince Regent by Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (Bristol 1769 – London 1830) and Studio, after 1815. A full-length portrait of standing figure with head turned to the left, wearing the uniform of a Field Marshal, white breeches, scarlet cutaway jacket with decorations and high collar, with cocked hat in his left hand and a sword in his right. In the background is an expansive sky with a distant horizon. The decorations on the left side of the jacket are the jewel of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the stars of the Orders of the Garter, the Saint-Esprit and the Black Eagle. Those on the right are traditionally said to be the Order of the Bath or the Order of Guelph, though neither of these is identifiable in the decorations shown here. As the Order of Guelph was only instituted by the Prince Regent on 12th August 1815 and, since the portrait was exhibited at the RA in July of that year, this would mean the detail had been added at a later stage, which seems unlikely. Furthermore, as the Regent is shown wearing the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle, one would expect him also to be wearing the star of the senior Order of Britain’s Russian ally, that of St Andrew, which is indeed closer in design to the Order on the right. This is a studio version of 1814 portrait in Marquess of Londonderry's collection which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1815 (65).

Provenance

Doubtless painted for Earl Whitworth as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland (the picture described as for the Castle, Dublin, as one of the large whole-lengths – another was one for the ‘Marquess of Anglesea’ [sic] that is now at Plas Newydd (NT) – in the list of portraits for which Lawrence was paid by the King whilst Colonel McMahon (d.1817) was his secretary [A. Aspinall, Letters of George IV, vol.III (1938), p.488, no.1592]), and brought back by him to Knole; accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Trust in 2012

Credit line

Knole, The Sackville Collection (National Trust)

Makers and roles

Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (Bristol 1769 – London 1830) and Studio, artist

References

Gower 1900 Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London 1900 Armstrong, 1913: Sir Walter Armstrong, Lawrence, London, 1913, p.134 Garlick 1962-64 Kenneth Garlick, A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Walpole Society, Vol. xxxix, 1962-64, p.86, no.iii Walker, 1985: Richard John Boileau Walker: Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London 1985, 2 vols., p.203 Garlick 1989 Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence. A complete catalogue of the oil paintings, Oxford, 1989, no.325 (c), p.193

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