A Portrait of a Young Woman by Thomas Lawrence Joins the National Gallery in London

Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)
Portrait of Emily Mary Lamb, 1803
Oil on Canvas - 45.7 x 50.8 cm
Londres, National Gallery
Photo : National Gallery

9/5/12 - Acquisition - London, National Gallery - Thanks to acceptance in lieu, the National Gallery in London has enriched its collections with a portrait of a young woman by Thomas Lawrence (ill.).
This canvas, which represents Emily Lamb, was commissioned from the artist in 1803 by her father, Peniston Lamb, 1st Earl Melbourne, who can been seen represented on the right, astride a horse, in a collective portrait : The Milbanke and Melbourne Families by George Stubbs, residing in the same museum.

Emily Mary Lamb’s second husband was Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, who twice held the position of Prime Minister, from 1855 to 1858 and from 1859 to 1865. Her own brother, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, had also directed the British government in 1834 then from 1835 to 1841. This gives us an idea of her place in London high society.
Her portrait by Lawrence, remarkably spontaneous, is more a private – the young woman was only sixteen - than an official likeness. Although British art is represented mainly at the Tate Britain, the National Gallery presents all of the schools in English painting and already holds four canvases by Lawrence, but only one feminine portrait, a standing and more solemn representation as it evokes Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III.
Never before shown to the public, the work now acquired by the museum had remained since the beginning in the hands of the model’s descendants.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 15 mai 2012

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