George Canning (1770-1827) Prime Minister

  • About the work
    Country: Greece
    City: Athens
    Place: British Embassy

    This mezzotint print, made after a portrait by Thomas Lawrence, shows former Prime Minister George Canning. Canning held various appointments under Pitt the Younger’s administration, including Foreign Secretary from 1807 to 1809 and again from 1822 to 1827 and Prime Minister for four months in 1827, the last year of his life.

    The original portrait on which this print is based was commissioned by Thomas Hamilton, ninth Earl of Haddington (1780-1858) in 1817. However, Lawrence’s work on the portrait may not have begun until after the artist’s return from the Continent in 1820 and it has been suggested that this is the portrait of Canning that Lawrence exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, in 1825.

    Lawrence made four portraits of Canning in total between 1809 and 1826. The artist seems to have been on good terms with Canning, to whom he also shared a close physical resemblance.

  • About the artist
    Charles Turner was born in Woodstock, Oxfordshire; the son of an excise officer. At a young age he moved to London, where he was apprenticed to engraver John Jones and studied at the Royal Academy schools. He later produced work in mezzotint, aquatint and stipple for publishers in London and Scotland. He also began publishing his own prints in 1796. In 1812 he was appointed Engraver-in-Ordinary to George III. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1828. Throughout his career he is thought to have produced 638 portrait engravings and over 300 subject engravings. These were generally made after works by contemporary artists, such as Raeburn, Lawrence and J. M. W. Turner, with whom the engraver enjoyed a long standing friendship.
    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.
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    Canning, George
    Materials & Techniques
  • Details
    George Canning (1770-1827) Prime Minister
    height: 30.00 cm, width: 23.00 cm
    Purchased from F B Daniell, December 1968
    GAC number