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Thomas Lawrence’s Portraits of the Siddons Sisters

  • Laura Engel
Chapter

Abstract

A series of letters housed in the Cambridge Library and published in 1904, in a volume entitled An Artist’s Love Story edited by Oswald G. Knapp, tells the story of a tragic love triangle between the celebrated artist Sir Thomas Lawrence and both of the famous actress Sarah Siddons’s daughters—Sally and Maria. During the course of the correspondence (1797–1800), Lawrence completed an extraordinary series of drawings and paintings of Sarah, Sally, and Maria Siddons . The wealth of narrative and visual material (both tangible and imagined) surrounding the actors in this ensemble creates a unique opportunity to consider how tangible materials connect to intangible traces. Using Rebecca Schneider’s concept of performing remains and Hanneke Grootenboer’s theory of “intimate vision,” I explore how as archival tourists we might consider the ways in which these artifacts “look back” at us from the past. Putting these materials together stages a form of reenactment for the archival tourist that mimics the experience of an interactive museum exhibition.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

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