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Commentary for Volume 2, Prologue

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Lawrence’s Portrait of Wellington:

There was always some doubt over the date of the famous half length of Wellington: the Iconography puts it as 1814 while other authorities make it 1815-16, but it is clear from the correspondence quoted by Jehanne Wake that it was commissioned by the Duke in 1817 as a present for Marianne Patterson, and that she bequeathed it to the second Duke (Wake Sisters of Fortune p 140-1; Garlick Sir Thomas Lawrence p 279 no805b confirms that the provenance applies to this particular portrait).

Michael Levey writes of it:

It is significant that Lawrence’s most memorable and successful portrait of Wellington steers adroitly between extremes of grandeur and ordinariness, managing to convey – without any hint of swaggering – an air of supreme self-confidence. It is often claimed that Lawrence portrays too many of his sitters with smiling faces, but the accusation is not borne out by the evidence, and Wellington’s impassive, aloof visage in itself provides an effective rebuttal. (Levey Sir Thomas Lawrence p 26).

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© Rory Muir

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