Thomas Lawrence

England 1769-1830
Portrait of Lord Seaforth 25.0170

Lawrence's sitter for this portrait is believed to be Francis MacKenzie Humberston, Baron Seaforth and MacKenzie (1754-1815), descendent of the old Scottish earls of Seaforth and clan chief of the MacKenzies. The title became extinct in 1715 when the estates were forfeited to the crown after the 5th earl took up arms in support of the Old Pretender (the son of James II). Estates and titles were reinstated later in the century to a cousin of the 5th earl. Seaforth raised many Highland regiments in the service of the government and was appointed Governor of Barbados in 1800. It may have been that the portrait was commissioned in order to commemorate this occasion. Seaforth knew Lawrence as a struggling artist in 1796, and must have sensed his future success when, in that year, he lent him £1000, an extraordinary sum of money in those times. Lawrence's precocious talent for drawing likenesses was encouraged by his family, who paid for drawing lessons from the well-known artist William Hoare; though, by and large, Lawrence was a self-taught painter who quickly succeeded in securing the most envied commissions. His portrait of Queen Charlotte was an outstanding success at the 1790 Royal Academy Exhibition. On Reynolds' death in 1792, Lawrence was made Painter in Ordinary to His Majesty George III, thereby assuring a steady stream of sitters who wanted their portraits painted by the most fashionable artist in London. Known for his "juicy" handling of paint as well as his excruciatingly lengthy painting process, Lawrence painted the most glamorous men and women of his age.




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