This is Lawrence’s own copy of a portrait he painted of John Julius Angerstein (1735–1823) aged 84. The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1816, and Lawrence considered it one of his best works. Angerstein was Lawrence’s friend and patron for over 30 years. Lawrence first painted him in 1790 (National Gallery, London), when Angerstein was 55 and Lawrence was about 20.
Angerstein was a businessman and philanthropist, ‘much respected for his good heart and intentions’ as well as his effective fundraising for worthy causes. He was also a passionate collector of paintings, and after his death in 1823 the British government purchased 38 paintings from his collection to form the basis of a National Gallery.
King George IV expressed his wish to have a replica of the portrait. Lawrence borrowed the original from Angerstein’s son, John, who had inherited it, and made this copy for the King.
This is a copy by Lawrence himself of the portrait he made of John Julius Angerstein aged 84. The original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1816, and Lawrence considered it one of his best works. Angerstein had been Lawrence’s friend and patron for over 30 years and had been portrayed by him several times. Lawrence was only 20 when he painted the first portrait, John Julius Angerstein at 55.
Angerstein was born in St Petersburg, the son of a German doctor, and moved to London in 1750. A businessman and philanthropist, he was ‘much respected for his good heart and intentions’ as well as his effective fundraising for worthy causes. From 1789 he was Governor of the Veterinary College, the primary aim of which was to ensure the welfare of animals by providing thorough training in veterinary science. As the chairman of Lloyd’s of London during the Napoleonic Wars, Angerstein organised five of its Subscription Funds to assist seamen’s widows and orphans. He was also involved in a society founded in 1803 to end the employment of children as chimney sweeps. Angerstein was a passionate collector of paintings, and after his death 38 paintings from his collection were purchased by the British government to form the basis of a National Gallery. The National Gallery first opened at 100 Pall Mall, his former London home.
The original of this portrait was inherited by Angerstein’s son, John, who was a Member of Parliament. During a meeting with Lawrence on 5 December 1824, nearly a year after Angerstein’s death, King George IV expressed his wish to have a replica of the portrait. Over the years he had had some personal contact with Angerstein and evidently liked and respected him. Lawrence borrowed the original portrait from Angerstein’s son and made this copy for the King. The finished copy was included in a list of pictures painted for George IV which Lawrence submitted on 4 May 1824 and for which he was paid promptly. Lawrence reported that this was ‘as perfect a copy as I could possibly make it’. It was framed in 1828 and sent to Windsor Castle. King William IV presented it to the National Gallery in 1836 and it is still displayed in its original frame.
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