This drawing is datable to circa 1790 and is perhaps a study for no. 141 in the R.A. exhibition, 1791, described in The St. James's Chronicle as 'young Mr Lock. The best portrait in the Exhibition. The tone of the background is very grand and uncommon'. The oil painting has been untraced since it appeared at Christie's catalogued as John Hoppner, R.A. in the William Angerstein sale, 4 July 1896, lot 111 and later in the Sir Gordon Vereker sale, 18 March 1977, lot 113.
William Lock II and his father William Lock I were the centre of an intellectual and artistic côterie at Norbury and London, peopled by such figures as Samuel Johnson, the Burney family; distinguished French emigrés, including Madam de Staël, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Henry Fuseli and the Lock's relations, the Angerstein Family of National Gallery fame. William Lock I had a fine collection of his own, mainly formed in Rome, including Claude's 'St Ursula' (National Gallery). William Lock II was the eldest son of William Lock I, and was himself an artistic prodigy, a patron of the arts and a pupil and friend of Fuseli. By 1789 Lock desperately wanted to travel to Italy and Fuseli encouraged him on his visits to Norbury. Fuseli had greatly admired his drawings and dedicated a book of aphorisms and his lectures on painting to him. Unfortunately his visit to Rome made Lock realise he could not compete with the great artists of the past and he gave up oil painting altogether, but continued to draw. Sir Thomas Lawrence became a close friend of the family in 1790, and used to refer to William Lock II as 'Raphael William'. Lock sold Norbury Park in June 1819 and he and Elizabeth lived principally in Rome and Paris afterwards.
Lawrence painted several members of the Lock Family. In 1799 he painted Elizabeth Lock née Jennings, William II's wife and the portrait was much admired in the R.A. exhibition that year. The painting was unfortunately cut down in 1912. Lawrence also painted William Lock's three children, he took particular trouble over the portrait of Elizabeth, later Lady Wallscourt, a great beauty whom he painted with a guitar and this was exhibited at the Royal Academy 1826 (no. 65).
A portrait in oil of Mrs William Lock II by Lawrence, from the same provenance, was sold in these Rooms, 12 July 1990, lot 53 (¨48,000)