Lawrence completed his portrait of Knighton in time for the Royal Academy exhibition the following summer, but he was not always so efficient. And when unfinished works were commissions from George IV it was Knighton's job to chivvy Lawrence along. In 1824 Knighton tried to coax him into completing a portrait that George IV had commissioned at least three years earlier. The sitter was Lady Elizabeth Conyngham, the daughter of George IV's last lady companion, Marchioness Conyngham.
In October Knighton wrote Lawrence a good-humoured letter to convey the King's wish that Lawrence bring Lady Elizabeth's portrait to Windsor and complete it there. Nevertheless this was a royal command and Knighton cautioned Lawrence, 'You must have the goodness, not to fail in this particular!' Knighton's tact failed. A month later the portrait remained unfinished, and Lawrence received a formal note informing him that Sir William Knighton was honoured with the King's command that Sir Thomas Lawrence finish Lady Elizabeth's portrait without delay and send it to Carlton House.
This curt, third-person tone was not typical of Knighton's dealings with Lawrence. Whenever possible - and certainly in private correspondence - Knighton treated him with affectionate esteem. He confided to Lawrence that every time he entered Lawrence's rooms he was overcome with a desire to own everything in them. When Lawrence suffered a severe cold Knighton sent him two pills to be taken on going to bed and recommended that he have a basted chicken for dinner.
After Lawrence's death in January 1830 Knighton wrote, 'There seems to be a void in the congregated mass of society: you turn to the right and to the left – you have no substitute for him.'
From Wikimedia Commons
From Wikimedia Commons
A website dedicated to Lawrence.
The archive of Archibald Keightley, Lawrence's executor. I should have seen this to find out more about the unfinished portrait of Lady Knighton
Lawrence's portrait of Knighton, described by one visitor to the Royal Academy exhibition as 'the very perfection of portrait painting'.
- Garlick, Kenneth, Sir Thomas Lawrence (London Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954)
- Knighton, Lady [Dorothea], Memoirs of Sir William Knighton, Bart., G.C.H., Keeper of the Privy Purse during the Reign of His Majesty King George the Fourth. Including his correspondence with many distinguished persons, 2 volumes (London: Richard Bentley, 1838)
- Lawrence archive at the Royal Academy Library, London
- Sherwood Lodge sale catalogue, 1820: Surrey History Centre G85/2/1/1/138