John Philip Kemble was surely larger than life because Sir Thomas Lawrence needed an 8-foot canvas to capture him. Now London’s National Portrait Gallery owns the big picture after being on view for the first time in generations. Here’s Louise Jury from the Evening Standard’s This Is London:
A giant painting of one of Britain’s most famous actor-managers by the master portrait painter of his age has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery.
The 8ft-high portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence shows John Philip Kemble, a member of a famous acting family which also included the tragedienne Sarah Siddons, Kemble’s sister.
The work was already on loan to the gallery for only the second public viewing since it entered a private family collection more than 170 years ago.
But the gallery has struck a deal with the owner, John Philips, to buy the work with the help of a £55,000 award from The Art Fund charity. The total cost after tax concessions was £178,500.
Mr Philips is selling the portrait to fund the maintenance of the stately home, Heath House, Staffordshire, where it has hung for six generations.
Gallery Buys 8-ft High Painting of Stage Legend (This Is London)