This 19th century copy of King George IV is a reduced version of the enormous state portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence completed c.1820. Many versions and variants exist, some with Lawrence’s involvement, others not. Such was the popularity of the portrait – being one of the most defining of his reign – a painter, probably after the King’s death, has revisited the image and produced a faithful and interpretive study of this grand and imposing painting.
George, Prince of Wales was given no official duties by his father King George III. Jockeying for power, he sought to undermine the King by siding with the Whig opposition led by Charles James Fox. When the King went temporarily insane in 1788 William Pitt, the Tory Prime Minister, proposed a restricted Regency to protect the King’s interests. The King’s recovery three months later ended the ‘Regency Crisis’, but Pitt’s Regency Bill was revived during the King’s final illness. George was sworn Regent in 1811, crowned King in 1820 and ruled until 1830.
A child prodigy, the gifted Lawrence eventually succeeded Reynolds as Britain’s greatest portrait painter. With the temperament and flair to capture the glamour of the age, Lawrence created the image of Regency high-society with dazzling brushwork and an innovative use of colour. His international reputation was ensured when the Prince Regent commissioned portraits of all the foreign leaders involved in the downfall of Napoleon. Lawrence was appointed President of the Royal Academy in 1820.