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LAWRENCE Sir Thomas (1769-1830) Nationality : English

Painter and draftsman who was the most fashionable English portrait painter of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was the son of an innkeeper who owned the Black Bear at Devizes, where the young Lawrence won a reputation as a prodigy for his profile portraits in pencil of guests. Later he began to work in pastel, and in 1780, when his family moved to Bath, he set up professionally. He had little regular education or artistic training, but was working in oils by the time he moved to London in 1787. There he studied at the Royal Academy schools for a short time and was given encouragement by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

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