Colour mezzotintpublished 1835
About the work
This mezzotint print depicts Emily and Laura Anne Calmady. The original painting, known as ‘The Calmady Children’, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Emily and Laura were the children of Charles Calmady of Langdon Court in Devonshire. The portrait became one of Lawrence’s most popular works, largely as a result of the many prints published after it.
The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824. George IV’s request that the work be sent to Windsor Castle after the Academy exhibition, in order that he might have his own private viewing, greatly increased its notoriety. The double portrait was lithographed for the French market and an engraved version by printmaker George Thomas Doo was published under the title ‘Nature’ in 1832. This mezzotint was published in 1836 as part of a series of prints titled ‘The Works of Sir Thomas Lawrence’ (issued in two parts). The series (which included “‘Nature, the Children of Charles B. Calmady, Esq.’, engraved by Saml. Cousins”) was issued ‘under the especial patronage of His Majesty the King’ and prints were available for 12s (standard prints); 1l. 1s. (for proofs); or 1l. 11s. 6d. (for large proofs without lettering).
About the artist
Sir Thomas Lawrence was born in Bristol; the son of a supervisor of excise. In 1773 the family moved to Wiltshire to run a coaching inn but financial difficulties led them to move again to Bath, where Lawrence first worked as a portraitist. He may have had lessons from William Hoare, before enrolling at the Royal Academy schools in 1787. Aged 20, he received a royal commission for portraits of Queen Charlotte (1789-90) and Princess Amelia (1789). At 23 he replaced Reynolds as Painter-in-Ordinary and at 25, became a Royal Academician. Despite such success, he never escaped crippling debt. In 1815 he was knighted and commissioned to paint the Waterloo Chamber series of portraits. He replaced West as President of the Royal Academy in 1820.
Samuel Cousins was a well known mezzotint engraver of portraits and decorative subjects after his contemporaries and 18th-century British artists. Born in Exeter, he was the pupil of, and assistant to, the engraver S. W. Reynolds. Cousins set up his own business in London in 1825 and would later become the first engraver to be elected a Royal Academician. He engraved plates after the foremost artists of his day including Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873), Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873). His younger brother Henry Cousins (c.1809-1864) was also a mezzotint engraver.