Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. (Bristol 1769-1830 London) Portrait of Jane Allnutt with her pet spaniel, within a painted oval

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Lot 54
Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A.
(Bristol 1769-1830 London)
Portrait of Jane Allnutt with her pet spaniel, within a painted oval

Sold for £ 187,750 (US$ 234,558) inc. premium
Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. (Bristol 1769-1830 London)
Portrait of Jane Allnutt with her pet spaniel, within a painted oval
oil on canvas, unlined
61 x 50.4cm (24 x 19 13/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Left by the sitter to her half-brother John Allnutt (1803-1881)
    Violet Susannah Knox, his daughter
    Vicesimus John Knox, her son
    Holliss Allnutt Knox, his son, and thence by descent to the present owner

    The enchanting subject of this unrecorded portrait by Lawrence is Jane Allnutt (1818-1845), the daughter of one the artist's more significant patrons whose family had made their fortune in the wine and brandy trade in the 18th century. John Allnutt (1773-1863) lived in some style in a palatial home in then-rural Clapham, and used his considerable wealth to buy from the great artists of the day; works by Constable and Turner graced the walls of the family home including the latter's The Devil's Bridge, St. Gothard of circa 1803-4 which bore a label in John's hand recording that he had gifted the painting "to my daughter Jane." In addition to a full-length portrait of John by Lawrence, we know he painted several other portraits of the family, amongst which a second study of Jane painted in 1826. Judging from that unfinished portrait (K. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1989, no. 21) we can assume that the present study was painted around 1821-22 when Jane was three or four. Like the 1826 portrait, it has descended through the sitter's family after her death in 1845, the year of her marriage to Henry Carr (1817-1888) at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham.

    Lionized by the aristocracy, Lawrence was known for his good nature and charm, although his closest friendships were amongst the professional men and their families who were his earliest patrons. Not least of these were the families of John Julius Angerstein, Sir Francis Baring and indeed John Allnutt, who is known to have helped Lawrence in his financial difficulties: £5,000, for example, is said to have been paid to Allnutt following the artist's death.

    Many of Lawrence's best portraits during the last decade of his life were of children: indeed, his importance in this regard was recently recognised when the National Gallery in London agreed to buy the artist's celebrated Red Boy for £9.3 million. This dazzling tour de force (which was the first painting to be displayed on a British postage stamp) was described by the Gallery this year to be a unique opportunity 'to acquire an exceptionally important painting by one of the finest European portraitists of the early 19th century, which is of outstanding significance for British national heritage.' Previously dismissed as superficial, owing to the apparent facility of his technique, none of Lawrence's followers matched the fresh immediacy of his brushwork, with the possible exception of John Singer Sargent, and today, especially following the 1979 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, this great artist's stature has been reappraised: he is now widely believed to have been the finest portrait painter of his generation in Europe.

    Lawrence's achievement as a painter was based largely on his confidence in his largely self-taught powers as a draughtsman. As appears to have been the case with the present portrait, he usually drew the figure directly on his canvases before applying the paint, rarely producing separate preliminary sketches. His admiration of the great draughtsmen of the past influenced his own work as well as stimulating him to acquire outstanding examples of the work of the Old Masters. Unlike such artists as Sir Joshua Reynolds, who delegated such chores to studio assistants, Lawrence was also remarkable for insisting on choosing the dress, accessories and settings of his sitters with particular regard to the age and concerns of the sitter. This intimate depiction of a close family friend is the perfect example of Lawrence's extraordinary ability and dedication to his art.

    We are grateful to Peter Funnell and Brian Allen for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. (Bristol 1769-1830 London) Portrait of Jane Allnutt with her pet spaniel, within a painted oval
Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. (Bristol 1769-1830 London) Portrait of Jane Allnutt with her pet spaniel, within a painted oval
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