Lawrence was a child prodigy, supporting his family from boyhood by selling pastel portraits to visitors to Bath. By 1786 he had moved to London where he briefly attended the Royal Academy Schools. He rapidly established himself as a brilliant and successful portrait painter, exhibiting an astonishingly ambitious full-length of Queen Charlotte in 1790 (now at the National Gallery, London). He was knighted in 1815 and became President of the Royal Academy in 1820. His sitters - whether society beauties, theatrical stars or military commanders - embody the romantic, slightly raffish, glamour associated with the Regency period.