The Berger Collection

Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (1769-1830)
Portrait of a Lady, ca. early 1790s
Oil on paper mounted on canvas
30 x 25 in. (76 x 63.5 cm)

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Sir Thomas Lawrence was the finest portrait painter of his generation in Europe. He was a prodigy and as a young boy helped support his large family by drawing pencil portraits of visitors to his father’s inn. In 1790, aged just twenty-one, he exhibited two full-length portraits at the Royal Academy of Arts. Two years later he was named painter to George III. This work, dated to the early 179os, displays the naturalism and freshness so appealing to his patrons. The sitter is unknown but once was thought to be Lady Beaumont, the picture's first owner. Lawrence records the features of her face with precision while her hair and dress are loosely brushed and the background is a dusky halo of zigzag strokes. The sketchy quality of the picture suggests that Lawrence may have intended it as a preparation for a more finished portrait, which has yet to come to light.


Lady Beaumont; given by her to the Miss Copleys, May 13, 1827 (according to an incription on the back of the original canvas); the Groult Collection, Paris, by 1905; by descent; Derek Johns Ltd., London

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