Those eighteenth-century men and women rich enough to afford it never tired of having themselves painted. If I had been one of them, I would have chosen Thomas Lawrence for my portrait. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves through Lawrence’s humane yet flattering eye, which infused even the most unpromising sitter with a sense of spirit and passion?
I would have worn a red velvet dress, as both princesses Caroline and Sophia did when they sat for Lawrence, and hoped for a similarly impressive result: both women gaze directly out from their pictures, proud, commanding and smoulderingly bold.
The portraits do not quite capture their true characters, at least as revealed in their letters; but what an image to look upon when your spirits needed a boost.
Janice Hadlow (Author’s Note)
“Fascinating . . . . Hadlow paints subtle psychological portraits . . . . [She] has extensively researched this story, never rushing through the ‘highlights’ and giving a full picture of the family members in all their facets. She even dares to touch on the endless boredom of life at court . . . without ever becoming boring herself.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Janice Hadlow’s A Royal Experiment is a masterpiece. Beautifully written, impeccably researched, this heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner.” ―Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire
“From the first pages of Janice Hadlow’s enthralling A Royal Experiment, you know you are in the hands of a master narrator as well as a profoundly perceptive historian. And like all great historical writing, the book transcends its immediate story–gripping and moving though that is–to be a timeless reflection on the human condition.” ―Simon Schama, whose works include The Embarrassment of Riches and The Story of the Jews
“Hadlow presents a richer portrait of the regent, showing him as son, husband and father as well as ruler. . . . A Royal Experiment will appeal to lovers of biography, Georgian England or royal scandal.” ―Shelf Awareness
“Particularly incisive–and, it should be stressed, completely accessible.” ―Booklist (Starred review)
“[A] fascinating, story-filled account. . . . In this densely detailed yet fast-paced book, as drama follows drama, the interest never flags. Each story is a revelation. . . . [George III and his family’s] experience prefigures an enduring royal dilemma–how to live a private life in the glare of publicity.” ―The Guardian
“Positive and poignant . . . . Lovers of biography and those intrigued by dynastic and royal life should enjoy it.” ―Library Journal
“In this engrossing and thorough portrait . . . . Hadlow provides a critical, yet compassionate and intimate account of George III’s trials and tribulations in undertaking to create the ideal family.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Hadlow debuts with a new take on England’s King George III . . . . a better parent than his great-grandfather George I, who had his own son arrested, and a better husband than his flagrantly philandering grandfather George II . . . . [He] aimed to make the royal family a moral example to the nation . . . . Enjoyable for its vivid depiction of several varieties of royal lifestyles–and plenty of royal gossip.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Truly engrossing. George III and his relatives give us the ultimate family saga; it almost defies belief that these events really happened. A real-life period drama to lose yourself in.” ―Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces
“In readable prose, with a welter of detail, Hadlow succeeds in her considerable task . . . . enlivened by Hadlow’s infectious enthusiasm.” ―The Telegraph
“[A] colorful and brilliantly narrated royal chronicle . . . . Excellent both in her narrative skill and her scholarship, Hadlow . . . . has produced a perceptive, lively and wonderfully enjoyable book.” ―The Sunday Times
“Engrossing . . . . Hadlow, an accomplished storyteller, assembles . . . a picture full of emotional colour and drama, which still resonates today.” ―The Times
“Republicans and royalists alike will enjoy Janice Hadlow’s authoritative debut, which looks at the strange world of the Hanoverian court . . . with wit and compassion . . . . A book that has all the flair and engaging storytelling as the documentaries that Hadlow was responsible for commissioning in her former roles in broadcasting [at the BBC].” ―The Observer.
“In Janice Hadlow, George III and Queen Charlotte have a sympathetic yet scrupulous biographer who has spent years studying their court. The tale she tells is . . . engaging, written with verve and supported by a narrative eye doubtless honed during her years as a BBC controller.” ―The Times Literary Supplement
“Utterly engrossing . . . . Narrative history at its best from an impressive new talent in the genre.” ―BBC History Magazine
“A page turner . . . . [Hadlow has] handled the story with detailed scholarship and fun. There are intensely vivid insights . . . . [An] enthralling book.” ―Country Life
“[One of the season’s] biographies to watch out for.” ―Vogue Fall 2014 Books Guide
–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author.
Janice Hadlow has worked at the BBC for 28 years, including more than 10 years as a top executive. She was educated at a comprehensive school in Swanley, in north Kent, and graduated with a BA in history from King’s College London. She currently lives in Bath. A Royal Experiment is her first book. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Sir Thomas Lawrence
British artist WRITTEN BY The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Sir Thomas Lawrence, (born April 13, 1769, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.—died Jan. 7, 1830, London), painter and draftsman who was the most fashionable English portrait painter of the late 18th and early 19th
He was the son of an innkeeper who owned the Black Bear at Devizes, where the young Lawrence won a reputation as a prodigy for his profile portraits in pencil of guests. Later he began to work in pastel, and in 1780, when his family moved to Bath, he set up professionally. He had little regular education or artistic training, but was working in oils by the time he moved to London in 1787. There he studied at the Royal Academy schools for a short time and was given encouragement by Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was handsome, charming, and exceptionally gifted. His early success was phenomenal, and when he was 20 years of age he was summoned to Windsor to paint the portrait, later widely acclaimed, of Queen Charlotte. He was elected associate of the Royal Academy in 1791 and academician in 1794.
Lawrence was a highly skilled draftsman. He soon abandoned pastels but continued to make portraits in pencil and chalks. These were separate commissions and were rarely studies for paintings, as it was his usual practice to make a careful drawing of the head and sometimes the whole composition on the canvas itself and to paint over it. There are highly interesting references to his working methods in Joseph Farington’s Diary.Play
After the death of Reynolds, Lawrence was the leading English portrait painter. His works exhibit a fluid touch, rich colour, and great ability to realize textures. He presented his sitters in a dramatic, sometimes theatrical, manner that produced Romantic portraiture of a high order. After the death of John Hoppner in 1810 he was patronized by the Prince Regent, who knighted him in 1815 and sent him in 1818 to the political congresses of Aix-la-Chapelle and Vienna, where he painted 24 large full-length portraits of the military leaders and heads of state of the Holy Alliance. Executed with verve and elegance, these works now hang together in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle—a unique historical document of the period. By these works Lawrence was recognized as the foremost portrait painter of Europe. On his return to England in 1820 he was elected president of the Royal Academy.
Princess Sophia (1777-1848)
Princess Sophia was George IV’s favorite sister, and he commissioned this portrait together with that of her sister, Princess Mary, which also hangs in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor. Sophia was the fifth daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte. She was not physically strong, suffering from repeated bouts of ill health and becoming blind towards the end of her life
Painted when the princess was nearly fifty. It is tempting to suggest that Lawrence was being sympathetic towards his sitter. The princess adopts a pose of languor, but the vibrant red of her dress and the youthful pallor of her skin serve to dispel the image of Princess Sophia as an invalid. A subtle indication of her frailty is perhaps achieved by the handkerchief clutched in her left hand and the eyeglass tucked into her waist. Although George III had appointed Lawrence Principal Painter in 1792, it was under George IV’s patronage that his reputation flourished.
The miniature of George IV that hangs from Princess Sophia’s left shoulder, and showing the mutual affection between brother and sister, also serves as an acknowledgment by Lawrence of his gratitude towards his patron.
Commissioned by George IV