Thomas Lawrence (Bristol 1769–1830 London)
John Angerstein, M.P., ca. 1797
Graphite on off-white wove paper
9 3/4 × 7 7/8 in. (247 × 200 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.
After the death of Joshua Reynolds in 1792, Lawrence became the leading portraitist of the British school at age twenty-three. As Painter-in-Ordinary to George III, he made portraits of the royal family, and he was prolific in his production of portraits for Britain’s wealthiest and most prominent members of society. He also made portraits of friends and family, such as the subject of this drawing. The son of John Julius Angerstein, the Russian-born financier and collector whose paintings formed the nucleus of the collection of the National Gallery in London, John Angerstein was a politician and close friend. Lawrence’s precise handling of Angerstein’s features, such as the eyelashes framing the light-colored iris of his eye, presents him with a dignified familiarity, perhaps a reflection of their friendship, which Angerstein described after Lawrence’s death as “more that of brothers than of any other character I can give it.” No painting is known to be related to this drawing, which may have been an independent work made by the artist for his friend.