Thomas Lawrence (1769—1830)

by Thomas Lawrence (1769—1830)

Oil on canvas. 35 3/8 x 28 3/8 in. (90 x 72 cm). Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, Possagno, Italy.

by Thomas Lawrence (1769—1830)

Oil on panel; 60 1/2 x 47 1/2 inches (153.7 x 120.7 cm). Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.

by Thomas Lawrence (1769—1830)

Oil on canvas; 107 x 69 1/2 in. (271.8 x 176.6 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT.

by Thomas Lawrence (1769—1830)

Pastel on gouache paper. Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection, Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, Philadelphia, PA.

Eighteenth-century writers seemed uncertain how best to describe Britain’s relation to its many overseas possessions. Only tepidly did they employ the concept of empire since for them it carried uncomfortable baggage from ancient history. The traditional usage suggested that control over distant colonies and expansion into new regions depended on military might. But the notion that Great Britain was a modern-day Rome, dispatching powerful legions to conquer the world, did not sit well with a people who celebrated liberty and rights, the blessings of living under a balanced constitution.

T. H. Breen
The Marketplace of the Revolution (2004)