A little bit of Lawrence: master-copy madness

Master-copy madness:

I’ve been attempting a master copy of Sarah Trimmer, after Lawrence:

It does look very much better when it’s not next to the Lawrence but that does rather defeat the object of the exercise.

Posted Image

The original of this is in the National Portrait Gallery but it’s hung so high it’s hard to see. I’m working from a National Portrait Gallery Print. At A4, it is too small,  even at high resolution and my painted copy is 12″ x 15 1/2″, which still tiny for the delicacy of some of the brushwork and adds complication because I am making comparisons at different scales.

Lighting lunacy

I’m sure I should also have started with something simpler but I probably learned far more for throwing my self in the deep end.

Although this is a single figure front on it has ended up as a challenging project because of the subtlety of Lawrence’s original work and because it is front lit; I unwittingly chose one of the trickiest possible lighting scenarios. I didn’t understand anything about the properties of different lighting scenarios when I started it, so I’m pleased to have at least identified that as an area for careful analysis and some future studies.

Here’s how it went:

And the latest version:


She still needs a lot more work but I think she will need to sit long enough for me to come back to her with fresh eyes.

The Lawrence Palette??

My palette for this evolved into:
Titanium white, Ivory black, Raw umber, Gold ochre, English Red, and a little Naples yellow.

I later briefly researched Lawrence’s palette which was similar (although this palette  is what he recommends rather than necessarily what he used):

In 1790 Lawrence identified various colours for use by Lady Malden, the wife of one of his patrons, and these included Prussian Blue, Ivory Black, Van Dyck Brown (also known as Cologne Earth), Terra di Sienna (or Raw Sienna), Brown Ochre, Naples Yellow and Indian Red, standard colours of the time (Royal Academy Archive, LAW/1/32, draft letter to Lord Malden). Indian Red was later picked out by George Field as a colour Lawrence held in high esteem (George Field, Chromatography, 1835, p.96).

Extract from the NPG

Making this copy has given me a far greater appreciation for Lawrence’s work, in particular its subtlety, textural contrasts, the weight and fullness of the flesh, and above all the way that all of his subjects look back at you with such innate character.