In a letter to Charlotte Shaw on 14 October 1931, Lawrence describes how this famous portrait was taken by the well-known portrait photographer Howard Coster: 'On Friday I was on the embankment near the Temple ... [when] a little bare-headed man rushed up and said "Colonel Lawrence ... I want to photograph you ... You and Gandhi are the two people I want to take". So I went along, for the joke of it, and he put me on a little chair ... [at] A little shop in Essex Street. Rather a nice little stammering man, I thought. Works for Vogue!' Two weeks later Coster sent Lawrence one of the photographs he had taken, and Lawrence commented on it, to his mother on 30 October 1931: 'Pity it is so large, for I think that it is very good, as a photograph'.
Patrick Thomas ('Pat') Knowles (1906-1981) and his wife Joyce were neighbours of Lawrence's at Clouds Hill and close friends in the latter years of his life; Pat was one of the six pall-bearers at Lawrence's funeral and he and Joyce became the official curators of Clouds Hill after it passed to the National Trust in 1938. This mounted print is very likely to be the one Lawrence received and sent on to Cloud's Hill, for it was purchased by a previous owner in 1994 from the effects of Mrs Joyce Knowles, former curator of Cloud's Hill, and was presumably either given or bequeathed to the Knowles by Lawrence. The photograph can be seen hanging on the wall of Mrs Knowles's cottage in 1991 in the illustration on page 87 of Bob Hunt, The Life and Times of Joyce E. Knowles (1994). The photograph (in another print) is also illustrated in Jeremy Wilson's exhibition catalogue T.E. Lawrence (National Portrait Gallery, 1988), p.219 (no.315).
See illustration on page 159.