Portrait of General Sir George Murray, unfinished oil on canvas 92 x 70.8cm (36 1/4 x 27 7/8in).
PROVENANCE: Probably the artist's studio at his death Most probably offered at Christie's, London, 25 July 1891, lot 94 ('Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA. Portrait of the Rt Hon General Sir George Murray MP., GCB &C. left unfinished by the artist') By family descent to Lieutenant Colonel V.A.R. Isham and thence by descent to the present owner
LITERATURE: K. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence (Oxford, 1989), cat. no. 585, ill. p. 243
Born in 1772 at the old house of Ochtertyre, Perthshire, George Murray was the second son of Sir William Murray of Ochtertyre, 5th Baronet, and Lady Augusta Mackenzie, youngest daughter of George, 3rd Earl of Cromartie. Upon completion of his education in Edinburgh and Geneva, he was commissioned ensign in the 71st foot and the following year transferred to the 3rd foot guards (later the Scots guards). In 1799 his close friend, Colonel Robert Anstruther, took him as senior assistant quartermaster-general on the Helder campaign in the Netherlands. He went on to see action in numerous campaigns of the Napoleonic wars, finally serving as quartermaster-general to Wellesley in the Penninsular war and in September 1813 was made KB. In late 1814 he accepted the post of lieutenant-general in Canada although news of the resumption of hostilities in Europe did not reach him in time for him to join Wellington.
In 1825 Murray became commander-in-chief in Ireland and in the same year married Lady Louisa Erskine. Their daughter (born when Lady Louisa was still technically married to her estranged husband), Louisa Georgina Augusta Anne Murray, was immortalised in Sir Thomas Lawrence's famous portrait Miss Murray, now part of the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood. The artist and Murray were clearly close as Murray was a pallbearer at the former's funeral in 1830. The present painting, begun in about 1829, most probably remained in the artist's studio at his death.