Sir Thomas Lawrence (FOR LONDON, LINE 3)
Lot 95*
Sir Thomas Lawrence (Bristol 1769-1830 London) Portrait of Mrs Arthur Annesley, 219.4 x 145.7 cm. (86 3/8 x 57 3/8 in.) with a further 19 cm. (7½ in.) of the top edge folded over the stretcher
Sold for £227,659 (US$ 377,514) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
(n/a) Sir Thomas Lawrence (Bristol 1769-1830 London)
Portrait of Mrs Arthur Annesley, standing full-length, in a white satin dress with two of her children, one in a red skeleton suit holding a rabbit, the other seated on a stone plinth
oil on canvas
219.4 x 145.7 cm. (86 3/8 x 57 3/8 in.) with a further 19 cm. (7½ in.) of the top edge folded over the stretcher

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    The sitter's family
    Thence by descent to the 12th Viscount Valentia
    by whom sold to the Howard Young Galleries, New York, 1936
    Mr and Mrs Walter O.Briggs Collection, Detroit
    George W.Ritter Collection by 1960
    His sale, Christie's New York, 10 January 1980, lot 114

    EXHIBITED:
    Lawrence, Worcester Mass., 1960 (cat. no.5)

    LITERATURE:
    D.E. Williams, The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Kt., London, 1831, Vol. I, p.128
    Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London, 1900, p.106
    Sir Walter Armstrong, Lawrence, Methuen and Co., London, 1913 (p.110)
    Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1954 (p.25)
    Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Phaidon, Oxford, 1989 (cat.no.36, illus. p. 139)
    Art News, XXXV, no.12, December 1936, p.17

    Catherine, daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Hardy, married Arthur Annesley of Bletchingdon Park, Oxfordshire in 1785, by whom she had ten children. The older child depicted here is probably their eldest son, Arthur, who in 1844 succeeded a kinsman to the Irish title of Viscount Valentia. He was the subject of a second portrait of circa 1790-5 by Lawrence, which is now in a private collection in the United States.

    Williams recorded that the portrait was commissioned in the early 1790s and that the price was 120 guineas. In February, 1806, when the artist made a statement to Thomas Coutts of monies paid owing for portraits, the price was given as £147, £73.10.0 having been received. In the list drawn up by Lawrence's executor in 1830 it was recorded as still only '2/3 finished.' It must therefore have been delivered to Bletchingdon from Lawrence's studio unfinished after the artist's sudden death in 1830.

    In his article, 'Lawrence's Children', for the Autumn 2007 edition of Bonhams Magazine, Hugh Belsey writes how it is strange to consider that the two greatest portraitists of British children were both bachelors and had no offspring of their own. 'Away from the responsibilty of parenthood both Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence revelled in the childish fantasies of coyness, curiosity and playfulness and shunned the world of grown up inhibiting decorum. Lawrence provided some of the greatest images of children.' He notes in particular how the angelic older child in the present portrait is shown aged about five years old and how he 'cuddles a pet rabbit, using it as an excuse for his own shyness and gaining confidence from the proximity of his mother. She is conscious of the artist's presence and looks towards him, disturbed from the attentions of her younger child.' Mr Belsey goes on to remark how Lawrence's portraits celebrate a new status for the British child, childhood portraiture reflecting the change in attitude of the stern 'seen but not heard' to a modern parental adulation of the angelic. 'Amongst the best examples to illustrate this change is the triple portrait of Mrs Annesley with her children, a painting which is so full of unguarded angelic playfulness. It has all the characteristics of the modern parenting: the loving, caring relationship between mother and child, the need of protection between mother and son, yet more embryonic relationships between the doting child and his pet rabbit and a harmony between figures and landscape which provides the background for their mutual affection. It is amongst the earliest and most charming of all Lawrence's portrait groups.'
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