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SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)
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SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)
5 More
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)

Portrait of Richard Meade, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam (1795-1879), half-length, in a black cloak with red collar

Details
SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. (BRISTOL 1769-1830 LONDON)
Portrait of Richard Meade, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam (1795-1879), half-length, in a black cloak with red collar
oil on canvas
30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm.)
Provenance
By descent in the sitter's family to the present owner.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Unknown to scholars of the artist’s work and, until now, never shown in public, this very fine portrait of Richard Meade, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam, a close friend of the artist’s, was almost certainly painted in 1819 during Lawrence’s six-month stay in Vienna, where he had travelled to execute a number of the celebrated full-length portraits to commemorate the allied victors over Napoleon. Commissioned by the Prince Regent, later King George IV, these works secured Lawrence’s fame throughout Europe and his reputation as the finest portraitist of his generation. During this short stay in the Austrian capital, Lawrence also painted Richard’s younger sister Lady Selina Meade (fig. 1; Christie’s, London, 6 December 2018, lot 36), a work that received great acclaim when exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820, the year the artist was elected as its President.
Richard Meade cut a dashing figure in early nineteenth-century Europe. He was the only son of Richard Meade, 2nd Earl of Clanwilliam (1766-1805), and his wife Caroline, Countess von Thun (1769-1800), daughter of Count Franz Josef Anton von Thun und Hohenstein. Richard’s maternal grandmother, Maria Wilhelmine, presided over a celebrated salon in Vienna and was an important patron of both Mozart and Beethoven. Richard’s parents had settled in the Austrian capital by 1796 following the 2nd Earl’s estrangement from his father, precipitated by a series of quarrels over the latter’s colossal debts and his own marriage to a penniless Roman Catholic. After the 2nd Earl’s death in 1811, following an infection contracted when manuring a flowerbed, Richard was sent to England to be educated while his two sisters, Caroline and Selina, remained in Vienna to be raised by their aunt Christina, Princess Lichnowsky. There they lived in a highly cultured and musical household where the young Beethoven regularly performed at the Lichnowsky’s Friday concerts. Caroline married Count Paul Szechenyi, Chamberlain to the Emperor, while her younger sister Selina married General Count Karl Johann Nepomuk Gabriel Clam-Martinic, A.D.C. to the Emperor.
Clanwilliam eventually joined the diplomatic service and attended the Congress of Vienna in 1814 attached to Lord Castlereagh’s suite before serving as his private secretary from 1817 to 1819. Following Castlereagh’s death in 1822, he became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and was appointed Envoy to Berlin from 1823-27. He married the protestant Lady Elizabeth Herbert (1809-1858), fourth daughter of the 11th Earl of Pembroke by his second wife Catherine Woronzow, daughter of Count Semyon Romanovich Woronzow, Russian Ambassador to the British Court between 1785 and 1800, and in 1802. Both he, Elizabeth’s grandfather, and her uncle Field Marshal Prince Michael Woronzow, a commander of the Russian cavalry against Napoleon and later Governor-General of the Caucasus, sat to Lawrence for their portraits, the latter for the striking half-length, painted in 1821 and now in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
In his 1848 memoirs, the French writer, politician and diplomat François-René de Chateaubriand wrote of Clanwilliam that: ‘at the head of the younger [London dandies of the 1820s]… Lord Clanwilliam was prominent, the son, it was said, of the duc de Richelieu’. How much credence can be attached to this contemporary London gossip concerning the sitter’s birth is unclear. However, Clanwilliam was evidently on intimate terms with Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1766-1822), a Major General in the Russian Imperial Army and twice Prime Minister of France. In a letter to Lawrence, dated 28 May 1822 (RA; LAW/4/26/2), eleven days after Richelieu’s death, Clanwilliam states that he intends to pay for the replica of the duc’s portrait, a work that Lawrence had painted for Richelieu’s sisters and is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon.
It was presumably through Castlereagh (fig. 2), Britain’s leading negotiator at the Congress of Vienna, and his half-brother, Charles William Stewart, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, that Lawrence met Clanwilliam and in turn his sister, whose portrait was later described as a ‘cadeau’ from the artist (Letter from The Earl of Clanwilliam to Lawrence, 15 September 1823, RA; LAW 4/ 161). The correspondence between the sitter and artist attest to their lasting intimacy. In a letter dated June 1824, in which he discusses the portrait of Richelieu, Clanwilliam expresses his hopes to visit Lawrence soon to gossip about ‘100 little things’ (RA; LAW/4/230/2). Clanwilliam would later serve as a pallbearer at Lawrence’s funeral on 21 January 1830, an occasion of national mourning recorded by Turner in a watercolour preserved at Tate Britain, London.
The portraits of Richard and his sister were painted at a decisive moment when Lawrence was emerging as the unrivalled star of European portraiture in the first half of the nineteenth-century. Indeed, it was in 1819 that he executed two of the full-lengths, which were to form part of the series later hung in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, that are considered the crowning achievement of his glittering career: the portrait of Pope Pius VII (which marks a unique instance of a British artist being commissioned to paint a Pope for a Protestant monarch); and that of his private secretary and personal adviser Ercole, Cardinal Consalvi (both Royal Collection).
Interestingly, this portrait is not mentioned in Lawrence’s letter to Joseph Farington, sent from Rome on 19th May 1819, in which he lists the works executed (including both an oil and drawing of Selina) during his time in Vienna. However, in a letter to Lawrence, dated 25 December 1819, from Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire (1758-1824), she describes seeing the artist’s: ‘drawing of Lord Clanwilliam at Lady Mansfield’s, it is framed and looks extremely well and is very like’ (RA; LAW/3/78). This is very probably the work recorded by Garlick in 1964 as then in the collection of Count Clam-Martinic and ‘inscribed, but not in Lawrence’s hand, Earl of Clanwilliam 1819’ (‘A catalogue of the paintings, drawings and pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence’, Walpole Society, XXXIX, 1964, pp. 222). Clanwilliam sat again to the artist for the full-length exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824 (private collection; see K. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence: A complete catalogue of the oil paintings, Oxford, 1989, p. 169, no. 189).

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