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Posts Tagged ‘David Garrick’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Catherine “Kitty” Clive
5 November 1711 – 6 December 1785

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Catherine “Kitty” Clive

Catherine “Kitty” Clive was most likely born in London, but her father, William Raftor, was an Irishman and a former officer in the French army under Louis XIV. According to her biographers, Clive worked as a servant in the homes of wealthy London families while young. At the age of 17, she was discovered by the theatre community when she was overheard singing while cleaning the front steps of a home near a tavern that actors and playwrights regularly patronized. She was recommended to Colley Cibber, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who hired her.

Clive’s first role at Drury Lane was as the pageboy Immenea in Nathaniel Lee’s tragedy Mithridates, King of Pontus. Throughout the 1730s she went on to play many more roles with much success, becoming Drury Lane’s leading comedic actress. In 1747 she became one of the founding members of David Garrick’s acting company. A soprano, Clive would also occasionally sing on the stage, notably portraying Emma and Venus in the world première of Thomas Arne’s masque Alfred in 1740. She also created the role of Dalila in Handel’s 1743 oratorio Samson.

Around 1732, Clive married George Clive, a barrister brother of Baron Clive. The marriage was not a success and the two separated, though never officially divorced, and Kitty Clive remained economically independent. Because she never openly took on lovers, Clive was able to keep her marriage vows and preserve her public reputation. Her good standing in the public’s eye helped strengthen the reputations of actresses in general, who were often looked down upon as being morally lax.

Clive rose in fame to become of the highest paid actresses of her time and may have even earned more than many of the male performers who were traditionally paid higher wages than their female cast-mates. Her career onstage spanned over forty years, and according to K. A. Crouch, “[h]er pay places her among the very best actresses of her generation.” Kitty Clive became a household name along with other theater greats of the time such as Lavinia Fenton and Susannah Cibber. Perhaps because of her earning power and her fame, Clive became an open supporter of actors’ rights. In particular, she published a pamphlet entitled The Case of Mrs. Clive in 1744 where she publicly shamed managers Christopher Rich and Charles Fleetwood for conspiring to pay actors less than their due. She also challenged the public’s habit of associating actors with beggars and prostitutes.

Clive tried her hand at writing farces, with some success. She wrote several satirical sketches with feminist undertones including The Rehearsal, or Boys in Petticoats (1750); Every Woman in her Humour (1760); and Sketches of a Fine Lady’s Return from a Rout (1763). In these pieces she used humor to criticize the challenges female performers and playwrights faced.

Kitty Clive retired in 1769 to a villa in Twickenham, which had been a gift from her friend Horace Walpole, and died there in 1785. She was buried at St Mary’s, Twickenham, where there is a memorial to her in the north-east corner of the church, on which a poem praises her generosity.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Society of Dilettanti
Since 1732 –

Society of Dilettanti is believed to have been established as a London dining club in 1732 by a group of people who had been on the Grand Tour. Records of the earliest meeting of the Society were written somewhat informally on loose pieces of paper. The first entry in the first minute book of the Society is dated April 5, 1736.

In 1743 Horace Walpole condemned its affectations and described it as such; “…a club, for which the nominal qualification is having been in Italy, and the real one, being drunk: the two chiefs are Lord Middlesex and Sir Francis Dashwood, who were seldom sober the whole time they were in Italy”

The group, initially led by Francis Dashwood, contained several dukes and was later joined by Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Uvedale Price and Richard Payne Knight, among others. It was closely associated with Brooks’s, one of London’s most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs. The society quickly became wealthy, through a system in which members made contributions to various funds to support building schemes and archaeological expeditions.

The first artist associated with the group was George Knapton.

The Society of Dilettanti aimed to correct and purify the public taste of the country; from the 1740s, it began to support Italian opera. A few years before Sir Joshua Reynolds became a member, the group worked towards the objective of forming a public academy, and from the 1750s, it was the prime mover in establishing the Royal Academy. In 1775 the club had accumulated enough money towards a scholarship fund for the purpose of supporting a student’s travel to Rome and Greece, or for archaeological expeditions such as that of Richard Chandler, William Pars and Nicholas Revett, the results of which they published in Ionian Antiquities, a major influence on neo-Classicism in Britain. One notable member was Sir William Hamilton, the British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples.

The Society has 60 members, elected by secret ballot. An induction ceremony is held at a London club. It makes annual donations to the British Schools in Rome and Athens.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet
8 May 1735 – 15 October 1811

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Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet was a notable English portrait painter and later a politician.

The third son of architect George Dance the Elder, Dance (he added the ‘Holland’ suffix later in life) studied art under Francis Hayman, and like many contemporaries also studied in Italy. There he met Angelica Kauffman, and painted several historic and classical paintings.

On his return to England, he became a successful portrait painter. With Hayman and his architect brother George Dance the Younger, he was one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

He was commissioned to paint King George III and his queen, plus Captain James Cook and actor David Garrick. His group portrait The Pybus Family (1769) is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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The Pybus Family (1769)

In 1790, he gave up his artistic career and became Member of Parliament for East Grinstead in Sussex. He served this seat until 1802 when he moved to Great Bedwyn, serving until 1806. In 1807 he returned to East Grinstead, serving until his death in 1811. He was made a baronet in 1800, which became extinct upon his death.

He was married to Harriet, the daughter of Sir Cecil Bishopp, 6th Baronet and the widow of Thomas Dummer (died 1781), for whom his brother had designed the house at Cranbury Park, near Winchester. They lived at Little Wittenham Manor in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). His wife survived him until 1825.

His nephew, Sir Nathaniel Dance (1748–1827), was a well-known commander of British East India Company ships.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Dance the Younger
1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852

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George Dance

George Dance the Younger was the son of the architect George Dance the elder married Elizabeth Gould in 1719. Their fifth son, George, was born 1 April 1741 at the family home in Chiswell Street, London and was educated at St Paul’s School.

Dance spent the six years between 1759 and 1765 studying architecture and draughtsmanship in Rome. Aged 17, he set off on his Grand Tour, sailing from Gravesend, Kent in December 1758. After a short stay in Florence, where he was joined by his brother Nathaniel, who was already studying painting in Italy, he and his brother set off for Rome, arriving in early May 1759. By the early 1760s the brothers were living at 77 Strada Felice. At Rome, Dance was acquainted with the architect, James Adam, who was staying nearby at the Casa Guarini, Robert Mylne (they remained lifelong friends), Abbot Peter Grant and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

As a student of the Accademia di San Luca, Dance measured and drew several buildings in Rome, including the three remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Constantine and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, showing much promise as a draughtsman. Much of his later work was inspired by Piranesi. In late 1759 Dance received his first commission – to design two chimneypieces for Sir Robert Mainwaring. In early 1762 Dance was measuring and drawing the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli and later that year he entered a competition organised by the Accademia di Parma to design A Public Gallery for Statues, Pictures & c.. His drawings were dispatched to Parma in April 1763, and a few weeks later it was announced that he had won the Gold Medal, and his designs were exhibited at the Ducal Palace. The projected building was in the latest style of neoclassical architecture.

During June 1764 the Dance brothers were in Naples, but later that year they were back in Rome, entertaining the actor David Garrick and his wife. On the 21 December 1764 George Dance and his brother were elected to the Accademia di S. Luca, where he was described as Giorgo Danze, architetto Inglese. On the 16 February 1765 Dance dined with the painter Angelica Kauffman and James Boswell who was visiting Rome. A few weeks later the brothers left Rome to return to London.

On his return from the Grand Tour, George (the younger) joined his father’s office. His earliest London project was the rebuilding of All Hallows-on-the-Wall Church. He was one of five architects asked to submit designs, and his design was chosen on 8 May 1765. Work on the building starting in June 1765, at a cost of £2,941, and the building was consecrated on the 8 September 1767.

In 1768, when he was only 27, George succeeded as Architect and Surveyor to the Corporation of London on his father’s death. His first major public works were the rebuilding of Newgate Prison in 1770 and building the front of the Guildhall, London. Other London works of his include the rebuilding of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less (1793), a former chapel within the precincts of Barts Hospital.

At Bath, Somerset he largely designed the Theatre Royal, built by John Palmer in 1804-5.
Coleorton Hall was one of his few buildings in the Gothic style.

Many of Dance’s buildings have been demolished, including the Royal College of Surgeons, Newgate Prison, St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics, the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, the library at Lansdowne House, the Common Council Chamber and Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall, Ashburnham Place, and Stratton Park (demolished save for its Tuscan portico). Dance retired from practice in 1815.

With his brother Nathaniel, George Dance was a founder member of the Royal Academy, founded on 10 December 1768. In 1795, with William Tyler, Dance was appointed to examine the accounts of the Royal Academy following the resignation of Sir William Chambers, and in 1796 they became the Academy’s first auditors, helping put the institution on a sounder financial footing.

In 1798 Dance succeeded Thomas Sandby as professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, but as he failed to deliver a single lecture he was dismissed in 1805 and replaced by his former pupil, Sir John Soane. For a number of years he was the last survivor of the 40 original Royal Academicians.

Dance’s years after 1798 were devoted to art rather than architecture. His Academy contributions consisted of highly finished pencil profile portraits of his friends in Regency London’s artistic establishment. 72 etchings were engraved after them by William Daniell and A Collection of Portraits were published over ten years from 1804. Many are now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Dance married Mary Gurnell on the 24 March 1772 at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. Their first child, Thomas, was born in Autumn 1773. Two more sons followed: George and Charles Webb. Mary Dance died at the age of 38.

Dance suffered from ill health for the last three or four years of his life. He died on 14 January 1825, at No. 91 Gower Street. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Home
13 September 1722 – 4 September 1808

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John Home

John Home was born either at Ancrum in Roxburghshire, or at Leith, near Edinburgh, where his father, Alexander Home, a distant relation of the earls of Home, was town clerk. He was born on 13 September and christened on 22nd September 1722. John was educated at the Leith Grammar School, and at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated MA, in 1742. Though interested in being a soldier, he studied divinity, and was licensed by the presbytery of Edinburgh in 1745. In the same year he joined as a volunteer against Bonnie Prince Charlie, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Falkirk. With many others he was carried to Doune castle in Perthshire, but soon escaped.

In July 1746, Home was presented to the parish of Athelstaneford, East Lothian, left vacant by the death of Robert Blair. He had leisure to visit his friends and became especially intimate with David Hume who belonged to the same family as himself. His first play, Agis: a tragedy, founded on Plutarch’s narrative, was finished in 1747. He took it to London, England, and submitted it to David Garrick for representation at Drury Lane, but it was rejected as unsuitable for the stage. The tragedy of Douglas was suggested to him by hearing a lady sing the ballad of Gil Morrice or Child Maurice. The ballad supplied him with the outline of a simple and striking plot.

After five years, he completed his play and took it to London for Garrick’s opinion. It was rejected, but on his return to Edinburgh his friends resolved that it should be produced there. It was performed on 14 December 1756 with overwhelming success, in spite of the opposition of the presbytery, who summoned Alexander Carlyle to answer for having attended its representation. Home wisely resigned his charge in 1757, after a visit to London, where Douglas was brought out at Covent Garden on 14 March. Peg Woffington played Lady Randolph, a part which found a later exponent in Sarah Siddons. David Hume summed up his admiration for Douglas by saying that his friend possessed “the true theatric genius of Shakespeare and Otway, refined from the unhappy barbarism of the one and licentiousness of the other.” Gray, writing to Horace Walpole (August 1757), said that the author “seemed to have retrieved the true language of the stage, which has been lost for these hundred years,” but Samuel Johnson held aloof from the general enthusiasm, and averred that there were not ten good lines in the whole play (Boswell, Life, ed. Croker, 1348, p. 300).

In 1758, Home became private secretary to Lord Bute, then secretary of state, and was appointed tutor to the prince of Wales; and in 1760 his patron’s influence procured him a pension of £300 per annum and in 1763 a sinecure worth another £500. Garrick produced Agis at Drury Lane on 21 February 1758. By dint of good acting and powerful support, according to Genest, the play lasted for eleven days, but it was lamentably inferior to Douglas. In 1760 his tragedy, The Siege of Aquileia, was put on the stage, Garrick taking the part of Aemilius. In 1769 another tragedy, The Fatal Discovery ran for nine nights; Alonzo also (1773) had fair success; but his last tragedy, Alfred (1778), was so coolly received that he gave up writing for the stage.

In 1778, he joined a regiment formed by the Duke of Buccleuch. He sustained severe injuries in a fall from horseback which permanently affected his brain, and was persuaded by his friends to retire. From 1767, he resided either at Edinburgh or at a villa which he built at Kilduff near his former parish. It was at this time that he wrote his History of the Rebellion of 1745, which appeared in 1802. Home died at Merchiston Bank, near Edinburgh, in his eighty-sixth year. He is buried in South Leith Parish Church. He died on 4 September and was buried on the 5th.

The Works of John Home were collected and published by Henry Mackenzie in 1822 with “An Account of the Life and Writings of Mr John House,” which also appeared separately in the same year, but several of his smaller poems seem to have escaped the editor’s observation. These are–“The Fate of Caesar,” “Verses upon Inveraray,” “Epistle to the Earl of Eglintoun,” “Prologue on the Birthday of the Prince of Wales, 1759” and several “Epigrams,” which are printed in vol. ii. of Original Poems by Scottish Gentlemen (1762). See also Sir W Scott, “The Life and Works of John Home” in the Quarterly Review (June 1827). Douglas is included in numerous collections of British drama. Voltaire published his Le Gaffe, ou l’Ecossaise (1760), Londres (really Geneva), as a translation from the work of Hume, described as pasteur de l’église d’Edimbourg, but Home seems to have taken no notice of the mystification.

Home was also an active participant in the social life of Edinburgh, and joined the Poker Club in 1762.

Home is amongst the sixteen writers and poets depicted on the lower capital heads of the Scott Monument on Princes Street in Edinburgh. He appears at the far right side on the east face.

A small bronze plaque stands near the site of his home on Maritime Street in Leith. His house was demolished in the 1950s and now holds a modern housing development (Bell’s Court).

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Frederick Cooke
17 April 1756 – 26 September 1812

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George Frederick Cooke

George Frederick Cooke claimed to have been born in Westminster, it seems likely that he was the illegitimate child of a British soldier in Dublin. He was raised in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where in 1764 he was apprenticed to a printer. However, early exposure to strolling players made an impact. By the end of the decade he had gotten himself released from his apprenticeship and become an expert.

He made his first appearance on the stage in Brentford at the age of twenty as Dumont in Nicholas Rowe’s Jane Shore. His first London appearance was at the Haymarket Theatre in 1778; he played in benefit performances of Thomas Otway’s The Orphan, Charles Johnson’s The Country Lasses, and David Garrick and George Colman’s The Clandestine Marriage. Almost immediately, however, he returned to the country, and he spent the next decade and more touring, from Hull to Liverpool. He first performed with Sarah Siddons in York in 1786; by that time he had earned a substantial provincial reputation. In 1794 in Dublin, as Othello, he first attained high rank in a national capital; by 1800, London critics had dubbed him the Dublin Roscius. His unusually long provincial apprenticeship in many ways served him well. After an initial concentration on romantic leads, particularly in comedy, he gradually found his metier playing rakes and villains. As a regional star, he performed with Siddons, Dorothy Jordan and other London celebrities; he had over 300 roles in his repertoire.

At the same time, he developed a drinking problem, and a reputation for unreliability inevitably followed. A binge drinker, Cooke would abandon his duties for weeks at a time, often spending whatever money he had in the process. Shortly after his first triumph in Dublin, he disappeared from the stage for over a year. At some point in 1795, he had enlisted in the British Army, in a regiment due for deployment to the Caribbean. He was extricated from the military by the efforts of theatre owners in Manchester and Portsmouth, and he returned to Dublin in 1796.

In 1801, he appeared at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden as Richard III; this role would become his most famous. That year he also played Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), Iago (Othello), Macbeth, Kitely (Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour), and Giles Overreach, and became the rival of Kemble, with whom, however, and with Mrs. Siddons, he acted from 1803. In 1802 he added roles in Edward Moore’s The Gamester and Charles Macklin’s Man of the World.

After Kemble and Siddons came to Covent Garden in 1803, the rivalry between the two actors unfolded on one stage instead of two. Fittingly, they debuted in Richard III, though Kemble played the title role and Cooke Richmond. Shortly later they acted in John Home’s Douglas: Cooke played Glenalvon to Kemble’s Old Norval, and Siddons was Lady Randolph. Washington Irving records seeing the group in Othello (Cooke was Iago, and Charles Kemble was Cassio); he called the performance delightful.

For the next decade, Cooke was an erratic star in London. Already a confirmed alcoholic when he arrived, he grew steadily less reliable as his career progressed. Already in 1801, he was unable to perform because he was drunk; such failures became more frequent in later years. In 1807, after failing to appear for his summer season in Manchester, he was jailed in Westmorland for several months. In the last years of the decade, he managed to curb his excesses to some extent; he was, for instance, frequently on stage during the Old Price riots.

However, he was unhappy with his treatment by the London press, and he was easily persuaded to travel to the United States in 1810. American audiences received him enthusiastically. He premiered as Richard III in New York on 11 November. Escorted by William Dunlap, he remained sober and performed in Boston, where he played opposite English tragedienne Mary Ann Duff, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Providence. Thomas Sully painted him as Richard; the result is generally considered Sully’s best painting of a human figure. He earned 20,000 dollars for his efforts, but the windfall reaped by the theater-owners (more than $250,000) left him feeling bitter and exploited. By 1812, he had accepted an invitation to return to Covent Garden. The outbreak of the War of 1812 stranded him in New York. He died of cirrhosis at the Mechanics’ Hall in Manhattan on 26 September.

A monument to his memory was erected in St. Paul’s chapel (on Fulton Street) by Edmund Kean during his first American tour in 1821. Barry Cornwall claimed that Kean brought Cooke’s big toe back to England, where his disgusted wife subsequently threw it away. Other biographers claim Kean stole a finger rather than a toe, and a relatively unreliable American writer claims that after Cooke’s skull was used as the skull of Yorick in a performance of Hamlet, members of a private New York club (including Daniel Webster and Henry Wheaton) subjected the skull to phrenological examination.
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Cooke’s personal life was, unsurprisingly, markedly chaotic. Even apart from his binges, he was profligate and generous with his money, so that he rarely enjoyed a prolonged period of security. He married late. In September 1808 in Edinburgh he married Sarah Lamb. She accompanied him to London for the 1808 season, but in February 1809 Sarah returned to her family in Newark-on-Trent and was not associated with the actor thereafter. In New York, he married Violet Mary Behn, the daughter of a coffee-house owner. He left at his death $2000, all that remained of a lifetime as a famous actor.

Cooke may be called the first fully romantic actor in England. He drew on the style of Garrick and Macklin, both of whom he saw in his youth; he expanded on their naturalness and informality of style. That Kean idolized him is perhaps sufficient to suggest his style; there are also the contrasts that period critics saw between his style and that of the refined, dignified Kemble.

Cooke was about 5’10”, with a commanding stage presence and a long, aquiline nose. His stage presence was generally described as commanding, although many observers noted that his voice tended to become hoarse in the later acts of challenging plays. He was, like Garrick, a restless, physically dynamic performer; critics also noted his skill in using his eyes to convey complex thoughts or emotions, and his ability to project stage-whispers even in a large venue.

Little record of response to his early romantic roles exists; however, his technique in his mature tragic roles is abundantly recorded. He was at his best in roles of suave or energetic villainy or hypocrisy. In comedy, his Macsarcasm (from Macklin’s Love à la Mode) and Shylock were considered unsurpassable. In tragedy, in addition to Richard, he was a notable Iago. Though King Lear was not one of his signature roles, his interpretation of Lear’s madness influenced that of Kean and other actors.

Yet his performance in roles that required refinement or restraint was almost universally disparaged—perhaps inevitably, given the looming shadow of Kemble. His Hamlet was a failure. As Macbeth, he was said to manage nothing better than “low cunning.” Henry Crabb Robinson reports that Cooke failed in Kotzebue’s The Stranger; Robinson expressed a common opinion when he concludes that however compelling a presence, Cooke was too coarse for the greatest tragic roles. Leigh Hunt agreed, arguing that Cooke reduced all of his characters to their lowest motives. Of Cooke’s famous style of declamation (like Macklin, he delivered soliloquies as if thinking aloud), Hunt complained that it merely turned Shakespeare’s poetry into indignant prose.

As Richard III, Cooke offered an interpretation that both differed from and excelled Kemble’s rather staid performance. In such melodramatic scenes as the murder of Henry VI, Cooke excelled in conveying Richard’s horrid glee (as, indeed, had Kemble); unlike Kemble, however, Cooke was also able to convey a sense of Richard’s disgust with himself. This aspect of Richard was most notable in his discussion of his hunchback and in his response to Norfolk’s doggerel in 5.2. Where Kemble had simply brushed the bad news aside, Cooke pondered the verse carefully before rejecting it without force. The effect was to deepen Richard’s characterization, providing him with a gradually increasing awareness of his own villainy. Cooke’s Richard was, then, something more than the fairy-tale ogre described by Charles Lamb.

On the whole, though, the limits of Cooke’s talent are indicated by the probably apocryphal story related by Macready and others. Wishing to impress well-born visitors with his mimetic talent, Cooke made a number of faces meant to represent various emotions. One of his looks stumped the visitors. They guessed rage, anger, and revenge before Cooke, exasperated, told them it was meant to be love.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Linley the Elder
17 January 1733 – 19 November 1795

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Thomas Linley

Thomas Linley the Elder was an English tenor and musician active in Bath, Somerset. Born in Badminton, Gloucestershire, Linley began his musical career after he moved to Bath at age 11 and became apprentice to the organist Thomas Chilcot. After his marriage to Mary Johnson in 1752, Linley at first supported his wife and growing family predominantly as a music teacher. As his children grew and he developed their musical talent, he drew an increasing amount of income from their concerts while also managing the assembly rooms in Bath. When the new Bath Assembly Rooms opened in 1771, Linley became musical director and continued to promote his children’s careers. He was eventually able to move to London with the thousands of pounds which he had amassed from their concerts.

Among Linley’s students were his eight children (Elizabeth Ann, Thomas, Mary, Samuel, Maria, Ozias, William, and Jane), as well as tenor Charles Dignum, singer and actress Anna Maria Crouch, and novelist Frances Sheridan. Linley collaborated with his son Thomas in penning the comic opera The Duenna, with libretto by his son-in-law Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Linley’s parents were William (1704–1792), a carpenter, and Maria (1701–1792). He was the couple’s eldest child and was born on 17 January 1733 in the village of Badminton in Gloucestershire. When Linley was 11 years old, in 1744, the family moved to Bath, Somerset where he served an apprenticeship with Thomas Chilcot, the organist at Bath Abbey. Before becoming Chilcot’s apprentice, Linley had initially assisted by pumping the organ. He may also have received tuition from Domenico Paradisi who was giving harpsichord lessons in London from around 1747. William Boyce also tutored him in London.

He married Mary Johnson (1729–1820) on 11 May 1752 in Batheaston; Johnson was described by Ozias Humphry, who lodged with the couple for two years from 1762 until 1764, as having musical talents almost on a par with her husband. The couple had 12 children over an 18 year period from 1753 until 1771, but only eight lived beyond infancy or childhood. Seven went on to musical or theatrical careers: Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754–1792), his eldest daughter, wife of Richard Brinsley Sheridan; his eldest son Thomas Linley the younger (1756–1778), composer and noted violinist; Mary Linley (1758–87), who gave up her career as a singer after she married playwright Richard Tickell in 1780; Samuel Linley (1760–1778), second son, singer and oboe player; Maria Linley (1763–84), singer; Ozias Thurston Linley (1765–1831), minor canon at Norwich and organist at Dulwich; and William Linley, (1771–1835), composer of glees, songs and writer. Another child, Jane Nash (1768–1806), sang in an amateur capacity until her marriage. Music historian Charles Burney visited when the children were young and listened to them singing and playing instruments; he described the family as “a Nest of Nightingales”.

The family were well established in Bath and Linley worked as a music teacher; when Elizabeth was born in 1754 they were living in a house on Abbey Green. In the mid-1760s they rented a house with eleven rooms on Orchard Street to accommodate the ever increasing number of children. Linley is likely to have received some financial assistance from his father whose business was flourishing but the family still encountered monetary difficulties. Linley’s wife was frugal but “her parsimony grew legendary” when she was employed as a wardrobe mistress at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, after the family fortunes had prospered.

The early years of marriage saw Linley as the sole income producer for the family; some of the older children, particularly Elizabeth and Mary, were sent to stay with relatives, or perhaps boarding school. Linley was a tenor, an organist and harpsichordist but at that time was generating his income mainly by teaching and his tuition skills were increasingly sought out; Frances Sheridan was one of his pupils in 1763, although she became better known as a playwright and novelist. Another of his pupils was Anna Maria Crouch who later stated she was apprehensive of him. Charles Dignum was also trained by Linley.

Pupils were contracted to give a proportion of their earnings back to their tutors. He coached his children, providing their musical education from an early age. The children were put to work at a young age, firstly selling concert tickets then performing; Elizabeth began singing in concerts by the time she was nine-years-old in 1763. Anything earned by the children was commandeered by Linley and the talented youngsters quickly became a major source of his income. Linley took over the management of the musical performances held at the Assembly rooms in Bath in 1766; he had participated as the harpsichordist from 1755 when the performances were managed by Chilcot. The two eldest children, Elizabeth and Thomas, were utilised to sell the tickets for these concerts from 1762.

The new Bath Assembly Rooms opened in 1771 with Linley as Musical Director. Linley’s regular concerts starring his children were performed in front of full houses and his finances began to prosper. The family moved to Royal Crescent, a more fashionable address, raising their social standing. The children started to feature in concerts further afield including oratorios in London; Linley demanded high fees for them and organisers of a charity concert held to raise funds for the Foundling Hospital had to pay £100 for two of his daughters to sing. At the time of Elizabeth’s marriage to Richard Brinsley Sheridan on 13 April 1773 estimates appeared in the Bath Chronicle speculating Linley had earned almost £10,000 from her performances.

An agreement was made with John Christopher Smith and John Stanley for the older children to perform at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1773 that saw takings of over £500 per night for the oratorios performed during the Lenten season. The following year, in 1774, Linley joined Stanley in the management role of directing, writing and organising musical compositions at the theatre. Two years later, in June 1776, a partnership of his son-in-law, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Doctor James Ford who was a court physician and Linley purchased a half share of the theatre for a total of £35,000. Linley re-located his residence to Norfolk Street, London and mortgaged his properties in Bath to raise his £10,000 stake towards the purchase. The trio bought the remaining share after another two years paying David Garrick a similar amount giving them complete ownership. The Royal Society of Musicians elected him as a member in 1780.

According to musicologist, writer and singer, Mollie Sands, Linley was one of the “most famous of English-born [music] teachers”. As a composer, Linley wrote and arranged some songs and ensembles for The Duenna in 1775; written at the request of Sheridan and in collaboration with Linley junior, the opera was an exceptional success, being performed seventy-five times at Drury Lane – Lord Byron endorsed it as “the best opera ever written”. An earlier composition, Thomas Hull’s The Royal Merchant, performed at Covent Garden in 1767, was noted as a failure as well as a success. An unnamed critic wrote in The London Stage that “The music may be good, but the piece is trifling and childish”. In 1786 he collaborated with John Burgoyne on the successful Richard Coeur de lion.

Linley died suddenly on 19 November 1795 at his home, 11 Southampton Street in Westminster. He was survived by his wife but most of his children had predeceased him at a young age, possibly because of carrying a fatal genetic inheritance.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Elizabeth Montagu
2 October 1718 – 25 August 1800

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Elizabeth Montagu

Elizabeth Robinson was born in Yorkshire to Matthew Robinson and Elizabeth his wife née Drake. She was the first of three daughters. Conyers Middleton, the prominent Cambridge don, was the second husband of her Drake grandmother Sarah, and she and her sister Sarah, the future novelist Sarah Scott, spent time as children on extended stays with Dr. Middleton, as both parents were somewhat aloof. The two girls learned Latin, French, and Italian and studied literature. As a child, Elizabeth and Sarah, in particular, were very close.

While young, Elizabeth became a friend of Lady Margaret Harley, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer. Lady Margaret and Elizabeth corresponded weekly when apart and were inseparable when together. She spent time with Lady Margaret in London and met many of the celebrated figures of the 1730s, including the poet Edward Young and the religious thinker Gilbert West. In Lady Margaret’s household, men and women spoke as equals and engaged in witty, learned banter. Visits to Lady Margaret became more important to Elizabeth when her mother inherited a country seat in Kent and made that her home, with the daughters.

In 1738, Montagu wrote to Harley explaining that she had no desire for men or marriage. She saw marriage as a rational and expedient convention and did not suppose it possible to love a man. In 1742 she married Edward Montagu, grandson of the 2nd Earl of Sandwich, who owned numerous coal mines and had several rents and estates in Northumberland. She was twenty-two and he was fifty years old.
The marriage was advantageous, but it was apparently not very passionate. All the same, she bore a son, John, the next year, and she loved her child immensely. When he died unexpectedly in 1744, she was devastated. She and Edward remained friendly throughout their remaining time together, but there were no more children or pregnancies. Prior to the loss of her son, she had not been very religious, but his death brought her to consider religion more and more. Her sister, meanwhile, Sarah Scott, was growing extremely devout.

Elizabeth kept a female companion with her most of the time. This person was not exactly a servant, but she would act in that role. She would be expected to carry things and aid Elizabeth on her daily round. Barbara Schnorrenberg suggests that Sarah was in this function and says that there is good reason to suggest that she married poorly to escape that situation (Schnorrenberg 723). After Elizabeth’s mother died, her father moved to London with his housekeeper, giving no money at all to his children. When Sarah was removed from her bad marriage, Elizabeth’s father (whose ward she was) not only gave her no financial help but forbade either Elizabeth or Matthew, her brother, from relieving her distress.

Beginning in 1750, she and Edward established a routine where they would winter in London in Mayfair and then, in the spring, go to Sandleford in Berkshire. He would then go on to Northumberland and Yorkshire to manage his holdings, while she would occasionally accompany him to the family manor-house at East Denton Hall, a clean-lined mansion of 1622 on the West Road in Newcastle upon Tyne.

She was a shrewd businesswoman, despite affecting to patronise Northumbrian society for its practical conversation. Though acting as Lady Bountiful to her miners and their families, she was pleased at how cheap this could be. She was also glad to note that: ‘Our pitmen are afraid of being turned off and that fear keeps an order and regularity amongst them that is very uncommon.’ Elizabeth enjoyed hearing the miners singing in the pit, but found, alas, that their dialect was ‘dreadful to the auditors’ nerves.’

 

In London, Elizabeth began to be a celebrated hostess. She organized literary breakfasts with Gilbert West, George Lyttelton, and others. By 1760, these had turned to evening entertainments with large assemblies. Card playing and strong drink were forbidden from these convocations, which were now known as blue stocking events.

By 1770, her home on Hill Street had become the premiere salon in London. Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, and Horace Walpole were all in the circle. For writers, being introduced there meant patronage, and Montagu patronized a number of authors, including Elizabeth Carter, Hannah More, Frances Burney, Anna Barbauld, Sarah Fielding, Hester Chapone, James Beattie, and Anna Williams. Samuel Johnson’s hostess, Hester Thrale, was also an occasional visitor to Hill Street.

Among the blue stockings, Elizabeth Montagu was not the dominant personality, but she was the woman of greatest means, and it was her house, purse, and power that made the society possible. As a literary critic, she was a fan of Samuel Richardson, both Fieldings (Henry Fielding and Sarah Fielding), and Fanny Burney, and she was pleased to discover that Laurence Sterne was a distant relation. She was related to Laurence Sterne through the Botham family. Sterne entrusted her with the disposition of his papers upon his departure for France. He was in ill health and the prospect of his dying abroad was real. She was a supporter of Bishop Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.

She also held similar events at her residence in the centre house of the Royal Crescent in Bath.

In 1760, George Lyttleton encouraged her to write Dialogues of the Dead, and she contributed three sections to the work, anonymously (her authorship of these is testified to elsewhere). It is a series of conversations between the living and the illustrious dead and works as a satire of 18th century vanity and manners. In 1769, she published An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear. In it, she proclaims William Shakespeare the greatest English poet and, in fact, the greatest poet of any nation.

She also attacks Samuel Johnson’s Preface to Shakespeare from 1765 for not having gone on to praise Shakespeare’s plays enough. While Johnson had dealt with text, history, and the circumstances of editing, Montagu wrote instead about the characters, plots, and beauties of the verse in Shakespeare and saw in him a championing of all things inherently English. When the book was initially published anonymously, it was thought to be by Joseph Warton, but by 1777 her name appeared on the title page. Johnson, for his part, was estranged from Montagu at this point.

In the late 1760s, Edward Montagu fell ill, and Elizabeth took care of him, although she resented giving up her freedom. He died in 1775. In 1776, she adopted her nephew, the orphan of her brother. Matthew Robinson, the child, kept his family name, but he was named Elizabeth’s heir. At that point, the coal and land holdings Montagu passed on to Elizabeth accounted for an income of £ 7,000 a year. She managed her wealth and estates well, and by her death her coal income was worth 10,000 pounds a year.

In 1777, she began work on Montagu House in Portman Square in London, moving in in 1781, on land leased for 99 years. She also expanded Sandleford’s Montagu House in the 1780s, and she got Capability Brown to design its gardens. She died in Montagu House in London on 25 August 1800 and left all of her money to Matthew Robinson, her nephew.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Maria Theresa Kemble
1774–1838

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Maria Theresa Kemble

The daughter of George De Camp, real name possibly De Fleury, she was born in Vienna 17 January 1774 into a family of musicians and dancers. Brought to England, she appeared when six years old at the Opera House, as Cupid in a ballet by Jean-Georges Noverre. After playing at the age of eight in a theatre directed by M. Le Texier Zélie in a translation of La Colombe by Madame de Genlis, she was engaged for the Royal Circus. George Colman took her for the Haymarket Theatre. Her first performance at the Haymarket was in The Nosegay on 14 June 1786 with James Harvey D’Egville in the presence of the royal family. On 21 June she danced in The Polonaise, and on 7 July she appeared in a ballet entitled Jamie’s Return with James Harvey and his brother George D’Egville. She was then secured by Thomas King for the Drury Lane Theatre, where on 24 October 1786, she played Julie, a small part in John Burgoyne’s Richard Cœur de Lion. Her father had left her in England for Germany, where he died while she was still young; she picked up English, and played juvenile and small parts.

She first caught the public taste 15 August 1792 at the Haymarket, when, in a travestied Beggar’s Opera she performed Macheath to the Polly of John Bannister and the Lucy of John Henry Johnstone. Biddy in Miss in her Teens (David Garrick), Adelaide in The Count of Narbonne adapted from the Castle of Otranto, Gillian in the Quaker, and Lucy in The Recruiting Officer were then assigned her; and she played some original parts, including Lindamira in Richard Cumberland’s Box Lobby Challenge. In singing parts she was allowed at times to replace Nancy Storace and Anna Maria Crouch. She was the original Judith in The Iron Chest (George Colman the Younger), and Florimel in Kemble’s Celadon and Florimel (from The Maiden Queen). Miranda in the Busybody, Page (Cherubin) in Follies of a Day (Figaro), Le Mariage de Figaro, and Kitty in High Life Below Stairs (James Townley) followed. At the Haymarket, 15 July 1797, she was the original Caroline Dormer in The Heir-at-Law (George Colman the Younger), and in the same year she played Portia and Desdemona, followed at Drury Lane by Katherine in Katherine and Petruchio, and Hippolito in Kemble’s alteration of The Tempest.

For her benefit, 3 May 1799, she gave at Drury Lane her own unprinted play of First Faults. In 1799 William Earle printed a piece called Natural Faults, and accused Miss De Camp in the preface of having stolen his plot and characters. In a letter to the Morning Post of 10 June, she denied the charge, and asserted that her play was copied by Earle from recitation. John Genest considered that Earle’s statement ‘has the appearance of truth’. Lady Teazle, Miss Hoyden, Lady Plyant in The Double Dealer (William Congreve), Hypolita in She would and she would not, Little Pickle, and Dollalolla in Tom Thumb were some of the other parts she played before her marriage to Charles Kemble, which took place 2 July 1806.

Accompanying the Kembles to Covent Garden, she made her first appearance there, 1 October 1806, as Maria in the Citizen, and remained there for the rest of her acting career. Her comedy, The Day after the Wedding, or a Wife’s First Lesson, 1808, was played at Covent Garden for the benefit of her husband, who enacted Colonel Freelove, 18 May 1808; she was Lady Elizabeth Freelove. Match-making, or ‘Tis a Wise Child that knows its own Father, played for her own benefit on the 24th, is also assigned to her. It was not acted a second time, nor printed.

She also assisted her husband in the preparation of Deaf and Dumb. Among the parts now assigned her were Ophelia, Mrs. Sullen, Violante, Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, Mrs. Ford, and Juliana in the Honeymoon, and the like. In 1813–14 and 1814–15 she was not engaged. On 12 December 1815 she made an appearance as Lady Emily Gerald in her own comedy Smiles and Tears, or the Widow’s Stratagem.

She then disappeared from the stage until 1818–19, when she played Mrs. Sterling, and was the original Madge Wildfire in Daniel Terry’s musical version of Heart of Midlothian. For her own and her husband’s benefit she played Lady Julia in ‘Personation,’ 9 June 1819, when she retired. A solitary reappearance was made at Covent Garden on the occasion of the début as Juliet of her daughter Fanny Kemble, 5 October 1829, when she played Lady Capulet.

She died at Chertsey, Surrey, on 3 September 1838.

Besides Fanny Kemble, her daughter Adelaide Kemble was known on the stage. A son John Mitchell Kemble was a classical scholar.

Her brother occasionally acted fops and footmen at Drury Lane and the Haymarket, and was subsequently an actor and a cowkeeper in America. Her sister Adelaide, an actress in a line similar to her own, was popular in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Lawrence
13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830

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Thomas Lawrence

Lawrence was born at 6 Redcross Street, Bristol, the youngest surviving child of Thomas Lawrence, a supervisor of excise, and Lucy Read, the daughter of a clergyman. The couple had 16 children but only five survived infancy: Lawrence’s brother Andrew became a clergyman; William had a career in the army; sisters Lucy and Anne married a solicitor and a clergyman (Lawrence’s nephews included Andrew Bloxam). Soon after Thomas was born his father decided to become an innkeeper and took over the White Lion Inn and next-door American Coffee House in Broad Street, Bristol. But the venture did not prosper and in 1773 Lawrence senior removed his family from Bristol and took over the tenancy of the Black Bear Inn in Devizes, a favourite stopping place for the London gentry who were making their annual trip to take the waters at Bath.

It was during the family’s six-year stay at the Black Bear Inn that Lawrence senior began to make use of his son’s precocious talents for drawing and reciting poetry. Visitors would be greeted with the words “Gentlemen, here’s my son – will you have him recite from the poets, or take your portraits?” Among those who listened to a recitation from Tom, or Tommy as he was called, was the actor David Garrick. Lawrence’s formal schooling was limited to two years at The Fort, a school in Bristol, when he was aged six to eight, and a little tuition in French and Latin from a dissenting minister. He also became accomplished in dancing, fencing, boxing and billiards. By the age of ten his fame had spread sufficiently for him to receive a mention in Daines Barrington’s Miscellanies as “without the most distant instruction from anyone, capable of copying historical pictures in a masterly style”. But once again Lawrence senior failed as a landlord and, in 1779, he was declared bankrupt and the family moved to Bath. From now on, Lawrence was to support his parents with the money he earned from his portraits.

The family settled at 2 Alfred Street in Bath, and the young Lawrence established himself as a portraitist in pastels. The oval portraits, for which he was soon charging three guineas, were about 12 inches by 10 inches (30 by 25 centimetres), and usually portrayed a half-length. His sitters included the Duchess of Devonshire, Sarah Siddons, Sir Henry Harpur (of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, who offered to send Lawrence to Italy – Lawrence senior refused to part with his son), Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey. Talented, charming and attractive (and surprisingly modest) Lawrence was popular with Bath residents and visitors: artists William Hoare and Mary Hartley gave him encouragement; wealthy people allowed him to study their collections of paintings and Lawrence’s drawing of a copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration was awarded a silver-gilt palette and a prize of 5 guineas by the Society of Arts in London.

Sometime before his eighteenth birthday in 1787 Lawrence arrived in London, taking lodgings in Leicester Square, near to Joshua Reynolds’ studio. He was introduced to Reynolds, who advised him to study nature, rather than the Old Masters. Lawrence set up a studio at 41 Jermyn Street and installed his parents in a house in Greek Street. He exhibited several works in the 1787 Royal Academy exhibition at Somerset House, and enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy but didn’t stay long, abandoning the drawing of classical statues to concentrate on his portraiture. In the Royal Academy exhibition of 1788 Lawrence was represented by five portraits in pastels and one in oils, a medium he quickly mastered. Between 1787 and his death in 1830 he would miss only two of the annual exhibitions: once, 1809, in protest about the way his paintings had been displayed and once, in 1819, because he was abroad. In 1789 he exhibited 13 portraits, mostly in oil, including one of William Linley and one of Lady Cremorne, his first attempt at a full-length portrait. The paintings received favourable comments in the press with one critic referring to him as “the Sir Joshua of futurity not far off” and, aged just twenty, Lawrence received his first royal commission, a summons arriving from Windsor Palace to paint the portraits of Queen Charlotte and Princess Amelia. The queen found Lawrence presumptuous (although he made a good impression on the princesses and ladies-in-waiting) and she didn’t like the finished portrait, which remained in Lawrence’s studio until his death. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790, however, it received critical acclaim. Also shown that year was another of Lawrence’s most famous portraits, that of the actress Elizabeth Farren, soon to be the Countess of Derby, “completely Elizabeth Farren: arch, spirited, elegant and engaging”, according to one newspaper.

In 1791 Lawrence was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and the following year, on the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, King George III appointed him “painter-in-ordinary to his majesty”. His reputation was established, and he moved to a studio in Old Bond Street. In 1794 he became a full member of the Royal Academy. Although commissions were pouring in, Lawrence was in financial difficulties. His debts would stay with him for the rest of life: he narrowly avoided bankruptcy and had to be bailed out by wealthy sitters and friends, and died insolvent. Biographers have never been able to discover the source of his debts; he was a prodigiously hard worker (once referring in a letter to his portrait painting as “mill-horse business”) and didn’t appear to live extravagantly. Lawrence himself said: “I have never been extravagant nor profligate in the use of money. Neither gaming, horses, curricles, expensive entertainments, nor secret sources of ruin from vulgar licentiousness have swept it from me”. This has generally been accepted, with biographers blaming his financial problems on his generosity towards his family and others, his inability to keep accounts (in spite of advice from his friend the painter and diarist Joseph Farington), and his magnificent but costly collection of Old Master drawings.

Another source of unhappiness in Lawrence’s life was his romantic entanglement with two of Sarah Siddons’ daughters. He fell in love first with Sally, then transferred his affections on to her sister Maria, then broke with Maria and turned to Sally again. Both the sisters had fragile health; Maria died in 1798, on her deathbed extracting a promise from her sister never to marry Lawrence. Sally kept her promise and refused to see Lawrence again, dying in 1803. But Lawrence continued on friendly terms with their mother and painted several portraits of her. He never married. In later years two women would provide him with companionship, friends Elizabeth Croft and Isabella Wolff who first met Lawrence when she sat for her portrait in 1803. Isabella was married to the Danish consul Jens Wolff, but she separated from him in 1810, and Sir Michael Levey suggests that people may have wondered if Lawrence was the father of her son Herman.

Lawrence’s departures from portraiture were very rare. In the early 1790s he completed two history pictures: Homer reciting his poems, a small picture of the poet in a pastoral setting; and Satan summoning his legions, a giant canvas to illustrate lines from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The boxer John Jackson posed for the naked body of Satan; the face is that of Sarah Siddons’ brother, John Philip Kemble.

Lawrence’s parents died within a few months of each other in 1797 and he gave up his house in Picadilly, where he had moved from Old Bond Street, to set up his studio in the family home in Greek Street. By now, to keep up with the demand for replicas of his portraits, he was making use of studio assistants, most notable of whom would be William Etty and George Henry Harlow. The early years of the nineteenth century saw Lawrence’s portrait practice continue to flourish: amongst his sitters were major political figures such as Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose wife Lady Caroline Lamb was also painted by Lawrence. The king commissioned portraits of his daughter-in-law Caroline, the estranged wife of the Prince of Wales, and his granddaughter Charlotte. Lawrence stayed at the Montague House, the residence of the princess in Blackheath, while he was painting the portraits and thus became implicated in the “delicate investigation” into Caroline’s morals. He swore an affidavit that although he had on occasion been alone with the princess, the door had never been locked or bolted and he had “not the least objection for all the world to have heard or seen what took place”. Expertly defended by Spencer Perceval, he was exonerated.

By the time the Prince of Wales was made regent in 1814, Lawrence was acknowledged as the foremost portrait painter in the country. Through one of his sitters, Lord Charles Stewart, he met the Prince Regent who was to become his most important patron. As well as portraits of himself, the prince commissioned portraits of allied leaders: the Duke of Wellington, Field-Marshal von Blücher and Count Platov sat for Lawrence at his new house at 65 Russell Square. The prince also had plans for Lawrence to travel abroad and paint foreign royalty and leaders, and as a preliminary he was given a knighthood on 22 April 1815. Napoleon’s return from Elba put these plans on hold, although Lawrence did make a visit to Paris, where his friend Lord Charles Stewart was ambassador, and saw the art that Napoleon had looted from Italy, including Raphael’s Transfiguration, the painting he had reproduced for his silver-gilt palette as a boy.

In 1817 the prince commissioned Lawrence to paint a portrait of his daughter Princess Charlotte, who was pregnant with her first child. Charlotte died in childbirth; Lawrence completed the portrait and presented it to her husband Prince Leopold at Claremont on his birthday, as agreed. The princess’s obstetrician, Sir Richard Croft, who later shot himself, was the half-brother of Lawrence’s friend, Elizabeth Croft, and for her Lawrence drew a sketch of Croft in his coffin.

Eventually, in September 1818, Lawrence was able to make his postponed trip to the continent to paint the allied leaders, first at Aachen and then at the conference of Vienna, for what would become the Waterloo Chamber series, housed in Windsor Castle. His sitters included Tsar Alexander, Emperor Francis I of Austria, the King of Prussia, Field-Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg, Archduke Charles of Austria and Henriette his wife, and a young Napoleon II, as well as various French and Prussian ministers. In May 1819, still under orders from the Prince Regent, he left Vienna for Rome to paint Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Consalvi.

Lawrence arrived back in London 30 March 1820 to find that the president of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, had died. That very evening Lawrence was voted the new president, a position he would hold until his death 10 years later. George III had died in January; Lawrence was granted a place in the procession for the coronation of George IV. On 28 February 1822 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society “for his eminence in art”. The royal commissions continued during the 1820s, including one for a portrait of the king’s sister Sophia, and one of Sir Walter Scott (along with Jane Austen, one of Lawrence’s favourite authors), as well as one to paint King Charles X of France for the Waterloo series, for which Lawrence made a trip to Paris, taking Herman Wolff with him. Lawrence acquired another important patron in Robert Peel, who commissioned the painter to do portraits of his family as well a portrait of George Canning. Two of Lawrence’s most famous portraits of children were painted during the 1820s: that of Emily and Laura Calmady and that of Master Charles William Lambton, painted for his father Lord Durham for 600 guineas and known as The Red Boy. The latter portrait attracted much praise when it was exhibited in Paris in 1827. One of the artist’s last commissions was of future prime-minister the Earl of Aberdeen. Fanny Kemble, a niece of Sarah Siddons, was one of his last sitters (for a drawing).

Lawrence died suddenly on 7 January 1830, just months after his friend Isabella Wolff. A few days previously he had experienced chest pains but had continued working and was eagerly anticipating a stay with his sister at Rugby, when he collapsed and died during a visit from his friends Elizabeth Croft and Archibald Keightley. After a post-mortem examination, doctors concluded that the artist’s death had been caused by ossification of the aorta and vessels of the heart. Lawrence’s first biographer, D. E. Williams suggested that this in itself was not enough to cause death and it was his doctors’ over-zealous bleeding and leeching that killed him. Lawrence was buried on 21 January in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Amongst the mourners was J. M. W. Turner who painted a sketch of the funeral from memory.

Lawrence was famed for the length of time he took to finish some of his paintings (Isabella Wolff waited twelve years for her portrait to be completed) and, at his death, his studio contained a large number of unfinished works. Some were completed by his assistants and other artists, some were sold as they were. In his will Lawrence left instructions to offer, at a price much below their worth, his collection of Old Master drawings to first George IV, then the trustees of the British Museum, then Robert Peel and the Earl of Dudley. None of them accepted the offer and the collection was split up and auctioned; many of the drawings later found their way into the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum. After Lawrence’s creditors had been paid, there was no money left, although a memorial exhibition at the British Institution raised £3,000 which was given to his nieces.

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