Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady

about 1793
Thomas Lawrence, English, 1769-1830
Born: Bristol, England
Oil paint on paper mounted on canvas
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

Sir Thomas Lawrence 
British, 1769–1830
Portrait of a Lady, early 1790s   
Oil paint on paper mounted on canvas  
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2019.15

image height: 30 in, 76.2000 cm; image width: 25 in, 63.5000 cm; frame height: 43 1/8 in, 109.5375 cm; frame width: 38 1/2 in, 97.79 cm; frame depth: 3 1/2 in, 8.89 cm
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

Painted when Lawrence was in his early twenties, around the time he was named painter to George III, Portrait of a Lady displays the naturalism and freshness that distinguished him from his peers and made him the most sought-after portrait painter in Europe. The sitter is unknown, though she was once thought to be Lady Cecil Hamilton, a member of a long-established Scottish noble family. Lawrence records the features of her face with dazzling precision while her hair and dress are loosely brushed and the background formed of a dusky halo of zig-zag strokes. The sketchy quality of the picture suggests that Lawrence may have intended it as a preparation for a more finished portrait, which has yet to come to light. 

Known Provenance
Lady Margaret Beaumont (1756–1829); given by her to the Miss Copleys, May 13, 1827 (according to an inscription on the reverse of the original canvas); the Groult Collection, Paris, by 1905; by descent in the family of M. and Mme. Camille Groult, Paris; from whom acquired by Derek Johns Ltd., London, 1998; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver, 1998; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2019. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018