Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA (1769 - 1830)
RA Collection: Art
This drawing of a woman viewed from the back was made by Sir Thomas Lawrence after a visit to the opera. The incident was related by his friend Elizabeth Croft: 'One night, at the opening of Covent Garden for the season, Sir Thos. excused himself after tea in Hart Street, in order to see the improvements which had been made by his friend Smirke. He returned in about an hour evidently in very ill-humour. I said, "You have brought back the headache with you."! "No." He asked me for a pencil or pen and ink, and in a few minutes he produced a likeness of a lady's bare back and broad shoulders, which were exposed quite down to her girdle; and he said she was an Englishwoman, or he should not have been so incensed at her. No one had such utter abhorrence of any indecent display in dress as himself, and he said in one of his letters to me from Vienna, that "if it must exist it ought to be confined to ugliness and vice". '
The drawing is reproduced in Michael Levey's monograph on Lawrence with the comment that although this 'spontaneous, vigorous study in pen and ink, of a woman's half-naked back' was produced 'in a fit of indignant prudery, having returned from seeing the sight among the audience of Covent Garden, he might have been echoing some study for a Sibyl on the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo'.
222 mm x 183 mm