Elizabeth Farren

Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of the actress Elizabeth Farren is a fabulous painting from the Regency period. It is unashamed in its dash and flair; in its excess.

I took a break from rendering life drawings to do an oil study of the head. Of course there is no comparison with the original, but to work at it I did a sight-size pencil drawing and worked from that as well as a picture of the original.

I worked it up relying on a traditional limited palette for flesh tones. The warm blue greens are achieved by substituting a cerulean blue for the harsher ultramarine .

Far from perfect, here’s the finished study

Oil on canvas paper

I genuinely think you learn something about how the artist achieved his work by attempting to emulate it. The main thing you learn is the gulf between natural talent and hard work!