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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830)

Pope Pius VII (1742-1823) 1819

RCIN 404946

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Thomas Lawrence dominated the art of portrait painting in England for forty years, undertaking commissions for the future George IV from 1814. After 1818 Lawrence was largely occupied in the major royal commission for a series of portraits of the European leaders who had combined to defeat Napoleon. The series was initially proposed for Carlton House in London, but George IV's plans for Windsor Castle came to include a new room, the Waterloo Chamber, specially created for the display of Lawrence's portraits. This portrait is arguably the most magnificent of that series and remains, with its companions, in the Waterloo Chamber to this day.

Luigi Barnaba Chiaramonti (1742-1823), elected Pope in 1800, was imprisoned by Napoleon in 1809 for opposing his plans for the annexation of the Papal States. After his triumphant return to Rome in 1814, Pius VII became a focus for the political and spiritual regeneration of Europe. Lawrence arrived in Rome in May 1819 and was accommodated in the Quirinal Palace. He was given nine sittings by the Pope.