Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Georgian Portraiture and an April release! Maggi Andersen

I need no urging to study art history. The fourth book in the BAXENDALE SISTERS Series, THE SEDUCTION OF LADY CHARITY is to be released in April, 2016, and my heroine is an artist. Charity’s unique style brings her attention among the ton, and requests for sittings from important personages, including dukes, lords and their ladies, and their children.
After the posed portraits of the past, intended to reveal a person’s stature and wealth, Sir Thomas Lawrence brought his portraits to life revealing the character of his subject: 

The artist’s career was launched at the Royal Academy in 1790 with a full-length portrait of Elizabeth Farren, a celebrated actress engaged to the Earl of Derby. The painting drew much attention. The actress was known for her comic roles on stage where she often gave her audience a wink. Lawrence has painted her with a mischievous glance over the shoulder. Set against a landscape of rolling hills on a spring morning with sheep grazing in the distance, she is dressed for the evening in her fur-trimmed evening cloak and muff, as if we’ve caught her hurrying home in the morning after a late-night assignation. 
Lawrence was famed for his ability to let his viewers in on the joke, to turn us into his accomplices. In his lifetime, a contemporary accused him of being a “male coquet.”
Some of his portraits are of children and capture their vitality and personality.

“Miss Murray”1824-26

The Calmady Children

As a general rule, a sitter’s merits or accomplishments were usually less important to Lawrence than the appearance he presented to the world.
Arthur Atherley as an Etonian

Lady Maria Conynham

Lady Maria's father was created Marquess Conyngham in the peerage of Ireland in 1816. This was through the influence of his wife, Elizabeth, who in 1820 became the final mistress of the future King George IV of England. Husband and wife were in constant attendance at court. Between 1823 and 1826 the Marchioness and her three children sat for Lawrence, the leading portraitist of the era. George IV was fond of Maria Conyngham and the present portrait hung for a time in his bedroom at one of the royal residences, St. James's Palace. The composition of the girl's portrait is elegant and the paint is applied to the canvas in broad, creamy strokes, with great assurance. However Lawrence was not greatly interested in drawing and her fingers are oddly jointed and disproportionately long.

Research: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tags: #Georgian Art, #Regency portraits, #Sir Thomas Lawrence

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