Thomas Lawrence, who was to become the most gifted and successful portrait painter of his generation, was something of a child prodigy, drawing likenesses of visitors to his father's West Country inn from the age of ten.

This self-portrait is executed in the style of a miniature and was engraved for the first biography of Lawrence published a year after his death. The young artist was handsome and charming, and contemporary accounts marvel at the beauty of his long, wavy hair. Although Lawrence was largely self-taught in all media, he seems to have received some tuition from William Hoare (1707-92), the fashionable Bath portrait painter. Lawrence himself was painted by Hoare at the age of eight and the older artist's stylistic influence can be seen in another of Lawrence's rare self-portrait drawings, at Burghley House.

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