Reviewed: ‘Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on December 21, 2011

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell, and Lucy Peltz, eds., Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance, exhibition catalogue (New Haven and London: Yale Center for British Art, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Yale University Press, 2011), 280 pages, ISBN: 9780300167184, $70.

Reviewed by Bruce Redford; posted 17 November 2011.

‘How various he is!’ Thomas Gainsborough’s tribute to Joshua Reynolds applies equally well to their successor in grand-manner portraiture. It is one of the signal achievements of ‘Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance’ that it removes any lingering traces of the negative stereotype: Lawrence the slick, formulaic sycophant who prostituted his gifts in the service of a decadent Regency elite. In its place this wide-ranging exhibition and thoughtful catalogue substitute a dynamic, probing, and inventive explorer of human psychology—one who is keenly attentive to the interplay of surface and depth, social mask and private self. Even Lawrence’s most public statements create a form of co-extensive space: not by breaking the picture plane, as in Caravaggio for instance, but by drawing the viewer into an
electric zone of intimacy. . . .

The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)

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