Emilia, Lady Cahir, Later Countess of Glengall by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Lawrence encountered Emilia, Lady Cahir, during two grand parties in 1803 and 1805 including theatricals, one of which she not only acted in but also organized. He was greatly taken by her and inscribed the canvas, "Painted by Thomas Lawrence in a fit of folly." Lawrence seems to have used the triple portrayal of one sitter to express her different attitudes and moods. We cannot tell why he never finished this oval portrait of a woman who had so inspired him, but we do know that he felt it important to exhibit "the beginnings of portraits" (as a contemporary called them) at his studio, perhaps as a demonstration of his skill. Lady Emilia paid for this portrait, but it stayed with Lawrence until his death. She was never able to obtain it, though it later entered the possession of a descendant.
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.