National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Lady Mary Templetown and Her Eldest Son Sir Thomas Lawrence (artist)
British, 1769 - 1830
Lady Mary Templetown and Her Eldest Son, 1802
oil on canvas
overall: 215 x 149 cm (84 5/8 x 58 11/16 in.) framed: 246.7 x 179.1 cm (97 1/8 x 70 1/2 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.96
Not on View
From the Tour: British and American Grand Manner Portraits of the 1700s
Object 7 of 12

A self-taught child prodigy, Lawrence became a full member of the Royal Academy when only twenty-five. Knighted in 1815 and elected the Academy’s fourth president in 1820, Sir Thomas Lawrence campaigned for the classical Greek sculpture from the Parthenon to be acquired for the British Museum. A reserved bachelor, Lawrence permitted himself only one extravagance—his immense collection of old master drawings, a hobby which eventually left him bankrupt.

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802, Lady Templetown and Her Eldest Son depicts Mary Montagu, only daughter of the 5th Earl of Sandwich, and two-year-old Henry, who would succeed his father as the 2d Viscount Templetown. Henry’s face occupies the exact center of the composition, while Mary’s head is silhouetted against a smooth, sunlit boulder. Lawrence greatly exaggerated the rhythmic grace and length of her legs and arms into the very epitome of slender elegance.

Employing proper academic procedure to create this double portrait, Lawrence turned to Thomas Gainsborough’s earlier Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The windblown veils, reclining poses on grassy banks, and identical crossings of the ladies’ ankles reveal Lawrence’s source, even though he added the boy, changed the background, and reversed the orientation of his composition.

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