National Gallery to buy Thomas Lawrence’s ‘Red Boy’ for £9.3m
To some it is the epitome of ghastly chocolate-box sentimentality, described by Wordsworth as “a wretched histrionic thing”. To others it is a dazzling tour de force, praised by one critic as showing “the sparkling intelligence of youth”.
Members of the public will soon be able to join the debate as the National Gallery on Thursday announced it was buying the work in question for the nation: Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of Charles William Lambton (1818-31), popularly known as the “Red Boy”.
The painting has been dividing opinion since it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1825. It is nauseating or it is wonderful. Whatever your opinion, it is undeniably famous, reproduced on countless toffee and shortbread tins and becoming, in 1967, the first painting ever to be put on a British postage stamp.
It has been offered to the National Gallery from a private collection for £9.3m. The funding is coming from the American Friends of the National Gallery plus other bequests and donations. The Art Fund is contributing £300,000.
The gallery said it was a unique opportunity …
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