Sir Thomas Lawrence (13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830) was an English portrait painter and the fourth president of the Royal Academy. A child prodigy, he was born in Bristol and began drawing in Devizes, where his father was an innkeeper at the Bear Hotel in the Market Square. At age ten, having moved to Bath, he was supporting his family with his pastel portraits. At 18, he went to London and soon established his reputation as a portrait painter in oils, receiving his first royal commission, a portrait of Queen Charlotte, in 1789. He stayed at the top of his profession until his death, aged 60, in 1830.
Self-taught, he was a brilliant draughtsman and known for his gift of capturing a likeness, as well as his virtuoso handling of paint. He became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791, a full member in 1794, and president in 1820.
In 1810, he acquired the generous patronage of the Prince Regent, was sent abroad to paint portraits of allied leaders for the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, and is particularly remembered as the Romantic portraitist of the Regency.
Lawrence's love affairs were not happy (his tortuous relationships with Sally and Maria Siddons were the subjects of several books) and, in spite of his success, he spent most of life deep in debt and never married. At his death, he was the most fashionable portrait painter in Europe. His reputation waned during Victorian times, but has since been partially restored.