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Thomas Lawrence, manuscript discourse

RA Collection: Archive

Reference code



Thomas Lawrence, manuscript discourse


10 Dec 1823



Extent & medium


Content Description

He begins by briefly asserting the principles underlying the judgement of the Academicians when awarding premiums; invokes the "rever'd founder", Sir Joshua Reynolds, and other examples among the British School. He deliniates the achievement and qualities of Benjamin West; many of West's works are on display at his old house, the public may be neglectful but the students should take instruction from the exhibition; he meditates on the fickleness of public taste in relation to the contemporary opinion of West. Returning to the subject of Reynolds Lawrence holds up the portrait of Mrs. Siddons as an example a love of Michelangelo translating into epic painting; Lawrence regards the Siddons portrait as the best of a woman in the world and dissects the work as a totem of the woman. He asserts that "there are no new principles in Art" and states with certainty that though new ways may be found in painting the theory underpinning all practice is immutable.