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Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1769–1830, British
George James Welbore Agar-Ellis, later first Baron Dover
1823 to 1824
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 36 x 29 inches (91.4 x 73.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
coat | costume | fabric | fur | hand | man | neckcloth | portrait | seated | stock | texture
Associated People:
Agar-Ellis, George James Welbore, first Baron Dover (1797–1833), politician and patron of art
On view
Curatorial Comment:
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This elegant portrait is a testament to the relationship of mutual respect and friendship between the artist and his subject, George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1797–1833). Agar-Ellis, a politician and art lover, had persuaded the British government to purchase the Angerstein collection of paintings (which Lawrence had effectively curated) as the nucleus for the National Gallery. Lawrence and Agar-Ellis established a firm friendship based on mutual regard, and the artist was later commissioned to paint Agar-Ellis’s wife and young son in a charming double portrait (1827–28; private collection). Agar-Ellis served as one of Lawrence’s pallbearers. The virtuosity of this portrait can in part be explained by the extraordinary amount of time and labor that Lawrence invested in it. Twelve sittings are recorded in Agar-Ellis’s diary between October 1823 and May 1824, several lasting for three or more hours (Northamptonshire Records Office, Annaly of Holdenby Collection, ref. X1384). The sitter’s handsome features are complimented by a masterfully painted costume of velvet and fur, referred to in Agar-Ellis’s diary as a “crimson =Titian-like pelisse,” which Lawrence had personally selected for the portrait. The face is painted smoothly in comparison with the slash of blue ribbon and the bristling fur. A second white highlight glimmers in Agar-Ellis’s right pupil, a trick that Lawrence used to suggest the glassy moisture of the human eye with remarkable fidelity. Considered the consummate portrayer of female beauty, Lawrence here delineates an equally compelling vision of masculinity. The portrait—a study in soft curves, beginning with the sitter’s mop of brown curls and his delicately crimped pinky finger and extending through his relaxed posture—proves that Lawrence’s penchant for sinuous torsos and sloping shoulders was not reserved for his female sitters.
--Cassandra Albinson,2007-01
Exhibition History:
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Sir Thomas Lawrence - Portraits of an Age 1790-1830 (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1993-07-31 - 1993-09-26)

Sir Thomas Lawrence - Portraits of an Age 1790-1830 (Yale Center for British Art, 1993 - 1993-04)

Sir Thomas Lawrence - Portraits of an Age 1790-1830 (Kimbell Art Museum, 1993-05-15 - 1993-07-11)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

Thomas Lawrence - Regency, Power and Brilliance (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-02-24 - 2011-06-05)

Thomas Lawrence - Regency, Power and Brilliance (National Portrait Gallery, 2010-10-21 - 2011-01-23)

The Critique of Reason : Romantic Art, 1760–1860 (Yale University Art Gallery, 2015-03-06 - 2015-07-26)

Yale University Art Gallery 2015 - 2016 (Yale University Art Gallery, 2015-07-27 - 2015-01-05)

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Cassandra Albinson, Thomas Lawrence, Regency power & brilliance , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2010, pp. 269-71..., No. 49, NJ18 L42 T56 2010 + (YCBA)

Walter Armstrong, Lawrence, Methuen & co., ltd., London, 1913, p. 127, NJ18 L42 A75 (YCBA) Also Available Online (ORBIS)

Geoffrey Ashton, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Chaucer Press, London, 2006, pp. 116-17, pl. 42, NJ18 L42 A76 2007 + (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 281, no. 83, pl. 83, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Kelly Compton, Thomas Lawrence, Still Brilliant, Two Centuries On , Fine Art Connoisseur, vol. 8, no. 3, June, 2011, p. 33, Not Available at Yale

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 142-43, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Dr. Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1954, p. 23, NJ18 L42 G37 (YCBA)

Dr. Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, portraits of an age, 1790-1830 , Art Services International, Alexandria, Va., 1993, pp.22-23, no. 2, NJ18 L42 G377 1993 + (YCBA)

Dr. Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, a complete catalogue of the oil paintings , Phaidon, Oxford, 1989, p. 133, no. 13, pl. 56, NJ18 L42 G376 (YCBA)

Dr. Kenneth Garlick, A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Volume of the Walpole Society, v. 39, Walpole Society, 1962-1964, p. 69, N12 W35 A1 39 + (YCBA)

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 40, ND466 G67 (YCBA)

Ronald Sutherland Gower, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Goupil, J. Boussod, Manzi, Joyant, successors, London New York, 1900, p. 124, NJ18 L42 G7 + (YCBA)

Clements R. Markham, Markham memorials, Spottiswoode & Co., London, 1913, pp. 73, 86, 195, Bb39m O19 (LSF)

Marcia R. Pointon, Portrayal and the search for identity, Reaktion Books, London, 2013, pp. 105-07, 109, Illus. 33, N7575 .P6452 2013 (YCBA)

R. J. B. Walker, Regency portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1985, p. 161 (vol. 1), N1090 A592 (YCBA)

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 250-1, fig. 31, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 41, N590.2 A82 (YCBA)

George Welbore Agar-Ellis, Lord Dover, Connoisseur, Vol. 166, September 1967, p. 1ii, N1 C75 + (YCBA)

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 250-1, fig. 31, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]

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