THE WRETCHED LOVE LIFE OF SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE

On this day, the anniversary of the death of artist Sir Thomas Lawrence RA in 1830,  we begin a series by guest blogger Jo Manning that originally appeared in 2010 entitlted –

The Wretched Love Life of Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), extraordinary painter, elusive personality…

 

Master Lawrence takes very striking likenesses of ladies and gentlemen

for a charge of one guinea for an oval crayon. —Bath Chronicle, 1782

There is an exhibition currently at the National Portrait Gallery in London: Thomas Lawrence, Regency Power and Brilliance. Only 54 paintings, but they are choice. Most of his work is held privately and several of the paintings in this exhibition are lent by owners who prefer to remain anonymous. (I met such an owner – his painting is not in this show – when researching My Lady Scandalous; he kindly allowed me to use a Lawrence painting on the condition that I not identify him.)

Actress Sarah Siddons by J. Dickinson

I came across the name of Thomas Lawrence for the second time when I was researching the life of Anna Foldsone (sometimes spelled Foldstone or Foltson, but later known as Anne Mee), a talented miniaturist, for a possible collective biography (tentatively titled Artists In Love) of six 18th century female artists. (That project, alas, is currently hanging fire.)

Lawrence, a friend of Anna’s journeyman painter father Joseph Foldsone, was cited as one of her teachers, and, later, after the death of her father when she was a teenager, as her fiancé. Apparently, nothing happened – as nothing seemed to happen with any of Lawrence’s relationships with women – he never married — and I could find little more on the subject of him and this very lovely artist.

Anna Foldsone, shortly after what did or did not happen with Lawrence, married an Irish barrister named Joseph Mee; it was not a happy marriage and she could have been on the rebound from Lawrence. Here’s a self-portrait of her below; she was known for her glorious, thick, curly blonde hair.

Anne Mee, by Anne Mee
There was, however, a good deal of speculation on his relationships with the Siddons women, Sarah, the mother, arguably the most famous actress of the time, and her two daughters, Sally and Maria. What exactly transpired is unknown, but there was enough gossip at the time to indicate he behaved like an utter cad, first wooing Sally and then dumping her for Maria; then he dumped Maria and went back to Sally! There was also speculation he was involved with their mother Sarah. Tragically, both sisters died young, probably of consumption, Maria in 1798 and Sally in 1803. Around 1904, Oswald Knapp exploited this scandal in his biography of Lawrence, An Artist’s Love Story. For the most part, biographers of Lawrence have tended to ignore his love life, which is readily understandable because it was such a mess, but it seems to me that the time seems ripe for a full-blown, warts-and-all biography of this talented, complicated man.

What’s so interesting in this sordid story of the Siddons daughters is that Sarah Siddons reportedly stayed friendly with the artist, who went on to paint a number of portraits of her, despite his questionable behavior with the two girls. Many years later, the writer Andre Maurois weighed in on this in a novel, remarking that it was the mother Lawrence was “in thrall” to, that she, not Sally, not Maria, was the object of his heated pursuits.

After the females in the Siddons family, Lawrence’s name was most closely linked with Isabella Wolff, with whom he might have fathered a son – though I doubt it — but more about that later, when I discuss the paintings in this current exhibition.

In addition to the great mystery of his love life there was the mystery of where all his money went; he had great financial problems despite his very successful career and his estate at his death was mired in debt. The first mystery leads me to wonder if the problem was that he may have been attracted to his own gender but felt he had to play the game of pursuing women. He was unable to commit to any one woman, yet he was an odd kind of womanizer; he appeared to show great, passionate, intense interest … and then it more or less fizzled out. His behavior was strange, erratic, immature, confused. I’ve yet to find any speculation – much less evidence — that Lawrence might have been gay, but closeted gay men were not that uncommon in Georgian England. Sodomy was punishable by hanging, however, so overt behavior carried the threat of death. One painting in particular in this exhibition set me onto this course of thought.

Part Two Coming Soon!

HELLO, HANDSOME – COURTESY OF SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE

by Kristine Hughes Patrone

Recently, I was Googling portraits of the Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence (as one does) and the search returned images that were decidedly not Wellington. And I must say, some of the sitters were exceedingly handsome, and some of them were portraits I hadn’t seen before. So I Googled some more and you’ll find the results of my search below. Enjoy!

Portrait of Frederic Lock of Norbury Park, Surrey. Youngest child of William Lock, a London art critic. 




William Lock the Younger, elder brother to Frederic, above. 

From Yale Center for British ArtIt has been suggested that Lawrence’s sensitive portrait of the younger William Lock may be a study for an untraced portrait of the sitter exhibited as the royal Academy in 1791. Lock’s attire and hairstyle indicate a later dating however, and Lawrence did not usually make preliminary drawings for his paintings, preferring to prepare them by drawing directly on the canvas with chalk. . . . The sitter was the son of the connoisseur William Lock (1732-1810), was one of Lawrence’s first sitter and a close friend of the artist. The younger Lock (1767-1847) was a keen patron of the arts and an aspiring artist, but after viewing Rome he lost faith in his talent and gave up painting, though he continued to draw. 




Arthur Atherley MP 1772 – 1844

This portrait was painted by Lawrence when Atherley was an Eatonian. Afterwards, he went to Trinity College and went on to stand as MP for Southampton for four terms. He was a founding member of the Fox Club. He also served as a justice of the peace in Sussex and died at Tower House, Brighton. 



The finished portrait now hangs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but an unfinished sketch of the same subject, above, was recently purchased from a private owner by the Holburne Museum, Bath. You can read more about that here




John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield, 2nd Baron Bloomfield 1802 – 1879

Astonishingly, Wikipedia tells me that Bloomfield was privately educated and became an attache to Vienna at the age of sixteen. This may have been due, at least in part, to the position of his father, the 1st Baron Bloomfield, about whom Wikipedia says: “He was an Aide-de-Camp, then Chief Equerry and Clerk Marshal to the Prince of Wales and finally was Private Secretary to the King, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Receiver of the Duchy of Cornwall from 1817 to 1822. One of issues that Bloomfield had to contend with a Private Secretary was King’s extravagant spending.” However, things did not end well for the elder Baron Bloomfield. You’ll find the story here.  




Richard Hart Davis Jr. 1791 – 1854



Charles William Bell

French video on Lawrence’s painting technique




Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux 1778 – 1868

Anti-slavery campaigner, attorney to Queen Caroline and one of the first Englishmen to fall in love with Cannes and make it into a popular resort. Like Wellington, Brougham was named by Harriet Wilson in her Memoirs. Unlike Wellington, he caved and paid the hush money her publisher demanded to keep his name out of the book. Brougham’s name is still familiar to us, as a style of coach was named for a vehicle he designed, which was carried on until recent memory as a style of automobile. Find his full biographical story here.

And finally . . . . .




Sir Thomas Lawrence, unfinished self portrait, circa 1825

ONCE AGAIN WEDNESDAY: Who Wants to be (or look at) a Horse's Behind?

by Victoria Hinshaw

On our post-Wellington tour jaunt around London, Kristine and I found another copy of the painting discussed below as appearing in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice film as it hangs in Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, depicting George, the Prince of Wales, and his horse’s behind.  It hangs in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.


An engraving of the painting also appears in “What Jane Saw,”  a digital recreation of an exhibition at he British Institution in Pall all in 1813.  Click here to see the website and click again on the picture itself to read the description.

Originally published April 2010

In May of 2009, my husband and I visited Brocket Hall, formerly the home of Lord Melbourne, now part of a golf complex. The house, in excellent condition, serves as a venue for corporate events and weddings. Brocket is located near Hertford and Hatfield just north of London. Part of the original land of the adjacent country homes of the London wealthy has been developed into Welwyn Garden City.

The ballroom in Brocket was used for the interiors of Netherfield, the home rented by Mr. Bingley, in the 1995 BBC version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In the picture above, you see Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth leading the country dance. In the far background, you can barely make out a portrait of George, Prince of Wales, standing beside the rump of his horse. The painting, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, was presented to Elizabeth, Lady Melbourne (mother of the Prime Minister), who reputedly was the mistress of the Prince for a time.

Here is another view of the painting behind Mr. Darcy.

I laughed when I saw this painting, a copy of which I have been unable to locate on any website pertaining either to the Prince of Wales (later George IV) or Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The pose reminded me of a famous view of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. A version of this painting hung in the Elgin Academy Art Gallery where I played at my piano teacher’s annual recital for her students and their parents. There are other versions of the Stuart portrait, chiefly belonging to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  I have always wondered how many of my fellow performers looked up in the middle of their playing to be faced with that horse’s . . . ah . . .tail.

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart
Since those youthful days, the question has arisen in my mind — why paint the rear end of the horse so prominently? In my search of the web for a copy of the Reynolds portrait above, I found some discussions of this exact point. But no one had a definitive answer. Someone suggested that the rear of the horse was a comment by the artist on the character of the subject. One writer said Stuart was not good at painting horses. Another said that men were so portrayed because they were prepared to jump on the horse and take off — being in a position on the horse’s left easily to reach the stirrup. Anyone have any views on this world-shattering question?
The Marquis of Granby, by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Above is another example. This is General John Manners, Marquis of Granby, who was painted by Reynolds in about 1765. He died before he succeeded to the title of Duke of Rutland. This painting hangs in the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. The General was a popular figure, hence many pubs in England named The Marquis of Granby.

Above, another painting by Gilbert Stuart. The subject is Louis-Marie, the vicomte de Noailles (1756-1804), who fought with the Americans during the Revolution. He returned to France but was driven out after their revolution and moved to Philadelphia in 1793. He was a banker and a friend of Washington, neither of which explains why he is standing next to his horse’s rump.

Here is my final example, a portrait of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. It hangs at the country home of the Duke, Stratfield Saye.

I welcome any comments, clues, or links to additional poses of generals (or anyone) with their horses’ rumps.

GEORGIAN ART FROM THE NEW MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM

SOME GEORGIAN ART FROM

THE NEW MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM

Following a major renovation and rehanging of the entire collections, it was time to celebrate…at one of several Opening Parties, we met for cocktails and canapes in the Calatrava addition (completed 2001). After the  official ribbon-cutting, we proceeded into the Older but newly renovated sections to view the entire collection in a new format.

MAM notice!
The Milwaukee Art Museum website is here.
Victoria here. As a long-time member, docent, volunteer, and staffer at the MAM, I was eager to see old friends in a new setting…and to enjoy the refreshed facilities, from the building itself, the HVAC system, lighting, and re-organisation of the collection. 
European Galleries

One (or three?) of those old friends: 
Triple Profile Portrait, C. 1560-80
French, School of Fontainebleau
Most of the galleries were closed for several years to complete the 6-year, $34 million for the renovation and expansion.  Special exhibitions went on in the Calatrava Wing, but we were very happy to see some of our favorites on display again.

The Age of Enlightenment–Immanuel Kant, 2008
by Yinka Shonibare, English, b. 1962
mixed media, purchase by the Contemporary Art Society

The MAM has a particularly fine presentation of American furniture, much from the Chipstone Foundation, as well as the Layton Art Collection. Read about the Chipstone Foundation here

Another of my personal favorites: London Visitors, 1874, by  James Tissot
French (1836-1902) A view on the steps of the National Gallery with the the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the background.

And now to some promised Art from the Georgian Period, in both Britain and the U.S., her  colonies during much of the period 1714-1837

Miss Frances Lee, 1769
Francis Cotes (English, 1726–1770)
Portrait of Jane Emma Orde, ca. 1806
John Hoppner (English, 1758–1810)
    Puzzle Jug, ca. 1820
    Sunderland or New Castle, England
    Attributed to John Barry (British, active 1784–1827)
    Landscape, n.d.
    John Constable (English, 1776–1837)
    Thomas Lawrence (English, 1769–1830)
    Frederick, Duke of York, n.d.
    William Blake (English, 1757–1827)
    Portrait of a Terrier, The Property of Owen Williams, ESQ., M.P. (Jocko with a Hedgehog), 1828  Edwin Landseer    (English, 1802–1873)
    Charles Willson Peale (American, 1741–1827)
    Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755–1828)
    Philadelphia, High Chest of Drawers, 1760-75
    John James Audubon (American, b. Santo Domingo [now Haiti], 1785–1851). Entrapped Otter (Canada Otter), ca. 1827–30. 
    John Singleton Copley (American, 1738–1815)
    Alice Hooper, ca. 1763

     Also on view until May 31, 2016 are two more portraits by Copley.  The MAM states, “For the inaugural exhibition in the Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Art Wing’s Focus Gallery, the Milwaukee Art Museum will show two rare paintings never before exhibited in the United States: a pair of pendant portraits of American colonists Anne and Duncan Stewart by the country’s first old master, John Singleton Copley. Painted by Copley in 1767, the portraits show the Scottish couple who were prominent in Boston and Connecticut politics until the American War of Independence, when t
    hey took the loyalist side. In honor of their support, the English king restored their estates confiscated during the Jacobite Uprising, and the couple returned to Scotland, taking the portraits with them. Now owned by Edinburgh’s Stewart society—descendents of the sitters—the works will be returning to the United States for the first time in almost 250 years.

    Duncan Stewart of Ardsheal, d. 1793
    by John S. Copley, 1767

    Anne Erving, Mrs. Duncan Stewart (1740-after 1802)
    by John S. Copley

    I hope I didn’t miss too much — I am delighted to say there will be many return visits to the newly re-hung galleries!

      For now, just a few pictures of the magnificent building in three parts:
    A view of the first War Memorial Center from the south) by Eero Saarinen, opened in 1957, which included the Milwaukee Art Center
    The recently expanded and renovated Kahler Wing (1975 and 2015)
    from the east
    Two views of the Calatrava Wing and the two other sections;
    looking north from Lake Michigan

      AN ARTIST OF WATERLOO

      Many great artists painted scenes of Waterloo, as based on visits to the battlefield in the wake of the conflict and/or imagined later.

      Victoria here, writing of one of my favorites, Robert Alexander Hillingford (1825-1904), born in London  He studied in Germany and worked in Italy for several years. After he returned to London in 1864, he began to do historical paintings and became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and other prominent galleries.

      His painting of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball hangs at Goodwood House, the Richmond ducal seat in West Sussex.

      The Duchess  Richmond’s Ball by Robert A. Hillingford

       Details from the painting are featured on the cover of the Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: A Celebration of Waterloo.  This anthology brings you nine stories by nine best-selling and award-winning authors, including me (she whispered shamelessly).

      An exhibition, Dancing into Battle, on view at Goodwood House August 3 to October 22,  2015, is organized around the famous painting. For the website, click here.
      From the description of the display:
      “On 15th June 1815, the Duchess of Richmond hosted a ball at her home in Brussels. … Goodwood’s summer exhibition will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the ball…
      “Like many English aristocrats, the 4th Duke and Duchess of Richmond were living in Brussels owing to straightened financial circumstances. Their house became a hub of social activity filled with family and friends, including their own fourteen children. The Duchess invited the cream of Belgian and Dutch society, British civilians, diplomats and army officers to her ball. The Duke of Wellington, a great friend of the family, and the Prince of Orange were among the guests, all of whom appear in her guest list which is one of the treasures of the Goodwood collection – and which will also be on display during the summer exhibition.
      “… The message that was delivered to Wellington in the middle of the ball reported that Napoleon had crossed the border into Belgium. Examining a map with the Duke of Richmond, Wellington declared, ‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God, he has gained twenty-four hours march on me’. When Richmond asked what he intended to do, he said that he had told the army to concentrate at Quatre-Bras, but that he would not stop Napoleon there, and pointing to the map placed his thumbnail on Waterloo declaring ‘I must fight him here’. 
      “That night many of the guests left straight for the holding battle of Quatre-Bas, followed two days later by the battle of Waterloo. Heart-wrenching scenes took place in the early hours of the morning as soldiers said goodbye to their loved ones, some never to see them again.” 
      Summoned to Waterloo by Robert A. Hillingford

      Hillingford’s painting, Summoned to Waterloo, depicts the courtyard of the house where the ball was held. At dawn on June 16th, the soldiers are leaving their sweethearts to head for combat.

      On the site of the Richmond Ball in Brussels an office building now stands;  there is no trace left of the dramatic scenes of June 15-16, 1815.

      The Turning Point by Robert A. Hillingford

      The Turning Point shows Napoleon and his Imperial Guard at the moment he realizes their attack on Wellington’s troops is failing.

      Lord Hill Inviting Surrender of the  Imperial Guard by Robert A. Hillingford

      Another Waterloo painting by Hillingford shows General Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill, commander of the British II Corps, inviting the French Imperial Guard to surrender at the end of the battle late in the day.

      Wellington At Waterloo by Robert A. Hillingford
      Most famous of all, perhaps, is Hillingford’s portrayal of the Duke of Wellington mounted on Copenhagen, summoning his troops to the final attack.  “Up Guards and at them again,”  he called, according to a Captain of the Foot Guards.

      Hillingford completed many detailed battle scenes, from several wars. Though completed long after the battles themselves, they convey both vivid action and spectacle.  

      English Civil War Scene (between 1642-1649)by Robert A Hillingford



      Marlborough Signing the Blenheim Dispatch in 1794  by Robert Alexander Hillingford.
      Saint Joan d’Arc by Robert A. Hillingford
      This portrait is much more intimate and conveys the spirit of Joan (c.1412-1431), if not her precise appearance. 
      Peasants of the Campagna by Robert A. Hilllingford
      He painted a wide variety of popular scenes, including some on which he drew from his experiences in Italy.
      And he did many scenes from the theatre, such as the one below.
      Much Ado About Nothing by Robert A. Hillingford