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Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

Head of George IV c.1820

Black and coloured chalks | 40.0 x 36.5 cm (sight) | RCIN 933873

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  • A drawing in black and coloured chalks of a portrait of the head of George IV, facing and looking left, wearing a high stock. 

    The drawing is a preparatory drawing for Lawrence's coronation portrait of George IV, RCIN 405918, painted in 1821. According to David Wilkie, Lawrence often made careful drawings of heads on paper before transferring them to canvas. Another chalk portrait of the King appeared in Lawrence's estate sale, 18 June 1831, described as one of twenty 'Large Drawings from the Life on Canvas'. A similar, earlier drawing by Lawrence of the Prince Regent in profile, which hung at Carlton House, remains in the Royal Collection (451646).

    The coronation portrait was painted to hang in the throne room at St James’s Palace, between the battle scenes of George Jones (RCIN 407186-7), where it hangs to this day. It is surprising, in view of its importance, that Lawrence created it by painting over a version of an earlier design - the 1818 portrait of George IV as Regent in Garter robes, presented to the Mansion House in Dublin (now in the Hugh Lane Gallery and copied in four versions in the Royal Collection, RCIN 405680, 405309, 404933, 404384).


    (Probably) Sir Thomas Lawrence sale, Christie's, 19 June 1830, lot 406, "His Majesty, black, white and red chalk, canvas"; The Vicomte de Canson; Monsieur Francois Flameng, the painter (1856-1923); his sale, Galerie Petit, Paris, 26-27 May 1919, lot 135; Mayer Collection, Paris; Mrs Coggeshall Kuhn, Washington DC, 1961; Slatkin Gallery, New York, 28 September 1962; Benjamin Sonnenberg, Gramercy Park; The Benjamin Sonnenberg Collection, sale, Sotheby's, New York, 5 June 1979, lot 94; Thomas Agnew and Sons Ltd (bought on behalf of Sir John Plumb); Professor Sir John Plumb, May 2002; purchased by the Royal Collection from Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox July 2004.

  • Medium and techniques

    Black and coloured chalks


    40.0 x 36.5 cm (sight)

    67.7 x 63.6 cm (frame, external)

  • Other number(s)