Miss Laura Dorothea Ross (Mrs Francis Robertson) (c.1798-1804). Sir Thomas Lawrence (English, 1769-1830). Oil paint on canvas. Tate.
Beginning as a child prodigy working in pastels, the gifted Lawrence eventually succeeded Reynolds as Britain’s greatest portrait painter, With the temperament and flair to capture the glamour of the age, Lawrence created the image of Regency high-society with dazzling brushwork and an innovative use of colour.
Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (painted 1814) (1778-1854), by Sir Thomas Lawrence (British, 1769-1830), National Portrait Gallery, London.
Born Charles Stewart, this perfect young man was the younger brother of Viscount Castlereagh. He was nicknamed ‘Fighting Charlie’ for his reckless bravery, led a team of cavalry and fought alongside Wellington in the Peninsular War. In 1814, he accompanied his brother, Lord Castlereagh, to Vienna, where he was often said to be inebriated and behaved rather outrageously. An all-round bad boy with money and a temper, he was a regency gallant in the finest meaning of the phrase. This painting of him by Thomas Lawrence is said to be Lawrence’s masterpiece. I can definitely see why it might be referred to thusly.
three circumstances occurred during the sittings of the Duke of Wellington for
his numerous portraits by Sir Thomas. When he was painting what is called the
State picture in the Waterloo Gallery (by far the least agreeable likeness),
the Duke wore a magnificent gold sash, striped in front with blue, red and
white. Sir Thos. Fell out with these gay stripes, and thought they did harm to
his picture, and so erased them. When the Duke next sat he apologised for
having taken this liberty, and offered to replace them if they were of any particular
meaning or consequence. “Oh no, never mind"—then said the Duke,
"they merely constitute me Genralissimo of the Armies of Spain.”
George Somes Layard
(editor): Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Letterbag with recollections of the artist by
Miss Elizabeth Croft, George Allen, London, 1906, p. 287