Sir Thomas Lawrence artist

Today, I would like to revisit a piece from quite a while back. At that time I suggested that the two children posed might be of royal blood. In revisiting this picture, I would like to suggest an alternative identification for the two sitters.

In my collection I have a mezzotint by engraver Herbert Stodart of the Calmady sisters. This a print of the original oil painting by #SirThomasLawrence.

The Calmady Sisters mezzotint by Herbert Stodart.

But this meezzotint is only here to introduce you to Thomas Lawrence and the Calmady sisters Emily and Laura Anne.

Thomas Lawrence (1769 – 1830) was a prodigy. Self-taught and a genius as an artist. Thomas was the main bread winner in his family by the age of 10. He established himself as a portraitist in pastels/chalk. His work usually appeared in oval format with a rough size of 12″ by 10″ (30cm X 25cm). He was supremely talented, charming and good looking. By 1787, Thomas moved his family to London where he exhibited regularly (every year from 1787 to 1830 except two at the Royal Academy Exhibition) . He mastered working in oils. He concentrated on portraits. He worked hard and produced many pieces for prominent personages across Europe but he for some unknown reason remained poor.

Lawrence considered the portrait of the #CalmadySisters to be his finest work and one of only a few with which he wanted to be remembered by. This is where the pastel drawing in my collection comes to the fore.

The Calmady Sisters by/after Sir Thomas Lawrence @ 1823

After having seen several other images

The Calmady Sisters drawing by Sir Thomas Lawrence
The Calmady Sisters stipple engraving

It is known that Sir Thomas created a number of pastel/chalk drawings/studies prior to his final choice of pose for the sisters. After much scrutiny, I am fairly convinced that the two young ladies are indeed Emily and Laura Anne Calmady. There is no signature or date. The paper is old enough to come from 1823. A citation from D E Williams biography The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence. “Upon the mother’s expressing her delight at the chalk drawing, as soon as the two heads were sketched in, he replied “that he would devote that day to doing a little more to it, and would beg her acceptance of it, as he would begin another”.

I hope you enjoy not only my meanderings but also the absolute beauty of the pieces displayed.

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