OIL PAINTING: Pope Pius VII, 1819
Pope Pius VII has every reason to be called Lawrence's masterpiece and it was recognised as such during the artist's lifetime. Lawrence wrote on 25 June 1819, 'No picture that I have painted has been more popular with the friends of its subject, and the public . . . and, according to my scale of ability, I have executed my intention: having given him that expression of unaffected benevolence and worth, which lights up his countenance with a freshness and spirit, entirely free (except in the characteristic paleness of his complexion) from that appearance of illness and decay that he generally has when enduring the fatigue of his public functions.'