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Sir Thomas Lawrence, John Julius Angerstein, aged about 55

Key facts
Full title John Julius Angerstein, aged about 55
Artist Sir Thomas Lawrence
Artist dates 1769 - 1830
Date made about 1790
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 75.8 × 62.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss May Rowley, a descendant of the sitter's daughter, 1965
Inventory number NG6370
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
John Julius Angerstein, aged about 55
Sir Thomas Lawrence

This is the earliest of four known portraits of John Julius Angerstein (1735–1823) by his friend Thomas Lawrence, probably painted around 1790 when Lawrence was about 20. It seems to have been painted impromptu on top of an unfinished portrait of a different man, which is now starting to show through the paint. Lawrence’s last portrait of Angerstein depicts him at the age of 84 and is also in the National Gallery’s collection. Lawrence was repeatedly in debt and Angerstein frequently lent him money, most of which Lawrence never paid back.

The son of a German doctor, Angerstein was born in St Petersburg in 1735 and was the chairman of Lloyd’s of London from 1790 until 1796. He developed a passion for art, and after his death the British government purchased his collection of 38 paintings for the nation. It became the nucleus of the National Gallery’s collection.

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