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Bust of Lawrence SM H7. ©A.C.Cooper (Colour) Ltd.
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Robert William Sievier (1794 - 1865), sculptor

Bust of Sir Thomas Lawrence

1830

Marble, on a marbled timber pedestal

Inscription: Inscribed on the back: Sir Thomas Lawrence P. R. A./1830 Sievier Sculp.

Museum number: H7

Curatorial note

Lawrence's head, bald in front with hair at the back and sides, is turned slightly left. The neck is draped and on the right shoulder a presidential chain, that of the Royal Academy, is festooned. The bust is supported on a moulded base.

Soane displayed this bust of his celebrated fellow Royal AcademIcian and friend in the front Hall of his house, one of the first works of art that anyone entering would see. It was exhibited at the RA in 1830 when it was described as 'posthumous'. Lawrence died on 7 January 1830 and the Academy exhibition opened in late April. Soane probably acquired this marble immediately after the exhibition. A cast of this bust, SM M695, forms part of the arrangement in the Dome Area at the heart of the 'Museum' at the back of the house. There is another copy of the plaster bust in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accompanied by correspondence that indicates that the bust is based on: 'a cast taken from the head of Sir Thomas, a few hours after his death, by a particular friend, [being] of course a correct likeness not only of his face but of his phrenology'.

Thomas Lawrence was President of the Royal Academy whilst Soane was its Professor of Architecture. The leading role of the RA in the artistic life of the nation probably underlies Soane's placement of Lawrence so prominently at the heart of his arrangements.

Soane sat to Lawrence in 1828 for the portrait which hangs in the Dining Room (SM P11), which was completed in 1829 and said to have been Lawrence's last work before his sudden death in 1830.

Exhibition history

Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 17 October 2001 - 20 January 2002

Associated objects

M695, cast
P11, subject's work


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk