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Accompanies the major exhibition

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

George IV (1762-1830) 1821

Oil on canvas | 295.4 x 205.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405918

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Lawrence was the most fashionable and also the greatest portraitist of his generation. He was made Principal Painter to George III in 1792 after Reynolds’s death, and received occasional commissions; however it was only after 1814 that George IV began to employ him in earnest.

This is the coronation portrait of George IV painted in 1821 and recording the extraordinary robes designed by the King himself. It 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). The coronation robes have been painted to match the outlines of the Garter robes underneath; in places the details of the first costume show through.

The King is shown in Coronation Robes, resting his right hand on the 'Table des Grands Capitaines' beside the Imperial Crown; he wears collars of the Golden Fleece, Guelphic, Bath and Garter.