Sir Thomas Lawrence is especially noted for his children's portraits for which he was unsurpassed in his day. He remains one of the most sucessful of all children's portraitists. They were the commissions ofwealthy patrons. These portraits. always with the children well dressed, are a rich source of information on fashionable children's wear of the day. We have been able to identify most of the children. His portrait of The Calmady Children is generally regarded as his masterpiece of this genre. Unfortunately we have collected only a few of these magnificent portraits and our information in the images that we do have is incomplete. They provide a wonderful record of children's clothing in the late-18th and early-19th century in the era before the advent of phptography.
Here is a group of three children, said to be the children of Sir John Julian Angerstein (1808) There appears to be a second potrait is said to be Sir John Julian (figure 1). We have little information on the family. The younger children weae white dresses, one with a pink bow. The boby wears a velvet suit. We are not sure if the yoingest child is a girl mor boy. If you look closely at the group portrait, the individual portrait seems to be a detail--the boy in the red jacket. This is a mystery I have yet to sort out. Not having the actual portraits to examine, we are unsure. The art dealer who advertised copies of the paintings couldn't explain the appelations. It could well be that the boy Sir Julian became Sir John Julian Agerstein, but he would not have held the title while his father was still alive. We suspect there is just one portrait and the individual portrait is just a reproduced detail copy.
This portrait is of Arthur Atherley as an Etonian. We know nothing about Arhur, but attending Eton at the time and being painted by Larence suggests he came from a wealthy family. An Etonian of course means a boy attending Eton College. This is a public (meaning private) school located near Windsor Castle, probably the most famous school in the world. King Henry Vi founded the school in 1440 to supply scholars to various educational institutions. Today it is an independent boarding school for boys between the ages 13-18. Some of the most famous English leaders attended England. They included military commanders, writers, explorers and politicians. Individuals included the Duke of Wellington, Shelley, Robert Boyle, George Orwell and Ian Fleming. The movie “Chariots of Fire” and the famous race around the quad was filmed at Eton. Atherley in the portrait here stands with Eton College in the distant background. Atherley who graduated from Eton in 1791 is presented as both well-mannered and confident. Laewnce's portrait seems a presentation of the educated ideal. Atherly who was about to finish at Eton is shown as both civilized and—armed with the requisite cognitive skills and knowledge—confident in his own ability to succeed in life. We do not know anything about Atherley's subsequent life.The portrait is interested because it shows an Eton boy before the better-known school uniform was adopted in the early 19th century.
This portrait is widely regaded as Lawrence's masterpiece in children's protrature. We do not yet have an image of this prtrait.
This wonderful 1805 portrait of the Fluyden children shows the classic skeleton suits worn at the turn of the century (figure 1). They were commonly worn with large, open-necked ruffled collars. The pose suggests the child at the left is a girl, but boys of that age would be dressed identically with their sisters.
"Master Lambton" was Charles William Lambton, the son of John George Lambton 1st Earl of Durham. The painting was one of Larence's earliest serious portraints of children, and today one of his most famous. He wears a burgandy skeleton suit with a ruffled open collar. Red and burgandy velvet seems to have been popular for boys. Unusually this boy does not appear to be wearing stockings with his sailor suit.
A fascinating portrait was the bust of the Emperor Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt, which was done in Vienna after the Emperor's fall. The boy was brought back to Vienna after the Emperor's fall and raised in the Austrian court. Note the likness to his father.
Lawrence painted these two brothers and a burro. The boys wear striking red and black velvet suits, but I'm unsure who the boys were. Nor do we know just when the portrait was painted. Note the more formal-looking, high ruffled collars and small, rather informal neck ribbons and the bright red suit the older boy wears.
Here we see three unidentified youths, a brother and two sisters. We would guess it was done in the late 18th century. One agent suggests this is a Lawrence work. We just do not know.
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