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After Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

George Canning (1770-1827) c. 1830-5

Oil on canvas | 132.3 x 105.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404937

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This three-quarter length version of Lawrence’s full-length portrait (RCIN 405181) seems to have been commissioned by William IV in order that Canning could take his place in the Waterloo Chamber. It was seen there in 1835. Canning is shown facing the spectator, standing with folded arms beside the Foreign Secretary's despatch box; he is wearing a dark coat with a velvet collar. The Waterloo Chamber is a great hall on the public route at Windsor Castle displaying portraits of those soldiers, sovereigns and diplomats responsible for the overthrow of Napoleon and the re-establishment of the monarchies and states of Europe thereafter. The concept began in 1814 when George IV used the opportunity of the Treaty of London to commission Lawrence to paint distinguished visitors. The group of portraits grew during the next decade as Lawrence continued to obtain portrait sittings at the various congresses following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and, in some cases, by making special journeys. Most of the twenty eight portraits were delivered after his death on 7 January 1830. By this time work was already begun of the space of the Waterloo Chamber created by covering a courtyard at Windsor Castle with a huge sky-lit vault; the room was completed during the reign of William IV (1830-7). The first illustration of the interior is provided by Joseph Nash (1809-78) in 1844 (RCIN 919785) and shows the arrangement which survives to this day: full-length portraits of warriors hang high, over the two end balconies and around the walls; at ground level full-length portraits of monarchs alternate with half-lengths of diplomats and statesmen.