English Chronicle (April 29–May 1, 1790) [see Ref. Levey 1979, p. 27], finds it "in spirit, colouring and expression far superior" to Reynolds's Mrs. Billington.
Thomas Lawrence Sr. Letter to the Reverend Henry Kent. April 30, 1790 [published in Edward Kite, "Some New Lawrence Letters," Connoisseur 56 (April 1920), p. 244], quotes extracts from various papers of April 29:
The Diary, and The Public Advertiser of April 30 ("Mr. Lawrence, young as he is, treads close already on the Robe of the most eminent of the profession. . . . such a portrait as Miss Farren's, might create envy in the mind of the first artist that ever existed. We have seen a great variety of pictures of Miss Farren, but we never saw before her mind and [character] upon canvas. It is completely Elizabeth Farren, arch, careless, spirited, elegant, and engaging.");
The Morning Herald (The portrait "possesses great merit, and is extremely characteristic. The background is very fine.");
The Morning Chronicle (The portrait "is an excellent production. [Lawrence] has given all the richness and fascination of the original with exquisite effect.");
The Gazetteer ("Mr. Lawrence hath this year fulfilled all the promises which he gave a year ago. . . . Miss Farren is one of the most delightful portraits we ever saw.");
The World (The "best portraits in oils" include that of Miss Farren. "Lawrence deserves the greatest encomiums. . . . ");
London Evening ("[Lawrence's] portrait of Miss Farren yields to none in the room.");
The Times of April 30 ("Those of the Queen, by Lawrence . . . and . . . of Miss Farren, likewise by Lawrence, appear to be the best.").
Sir Thomas Lawrence. Letter to Elizabeth Farren. 1790 [published in Ref. Layard 1906, pp. 12–13], regrets that in the exhibition the picture is titled Portrait of an Actress when he had called it Portrait of a Lady, "and this he did as well from its being Miss Farren in Private as from the wish he had that it should be known to be her from the likeness alone, unaided by professional character".
Thomas Lawrence Sr. Letter to the Reverend Henry Kent. April 1790 [published in Edward Kite, "Some New Lawrence Letters," Connoisseur 56 (April 1920), p. 243], reports that on the following Wednesday their Majesties will see, among others, the portrait of "Miss Farren, for which last [Thomas Lawrence] is to receive 100 guineas".
Public Advertiser (April 30, 1790) [see Ref. Peltz 2010].
St. James's Chronicle (May 4, 1790) [see Ref. Levey 1979, p. 27], calls it a "most spirited resemblance. . . . The figure is easy and natural, the affectation of the original is well disguised. The sattin [sic] cloak and fur are admirably painted.".
[unidentified newspaper] (1790) [see Ref. Whitley 1928, p. 130], finds the picture "oddly described [as] 'Portrait of an Actress.' Had the charming subject been of the 'Strolling Tribe' she could not have been more disgracefully distinguished. Sir Joshua has treated Mrs. Billington with more gallantry, and very properly styles his picture 'Portrait of a "Celebrated" Singer.'".
Elizabeth Farren. Letter to Thomas Lawrence. 1792 [published in Ref. Layard 1906, p. 14], responds with astonishment to the price, as Lawrence "must have forgot that the last time I had the honour of sitting to you, you told me the price would be 'sixty guineas,' and I then informed you that Lord Derby meant to be the purchaser"; asks him not to sell it without her consent.
Elizabeth Farren. Letter to Thomas Lawrence. 1792 [published in Ref. Layard 1906, pp. 14–15], reports that "they tease me to death about this picture. . . . One says it is so thin in the figure, that you might blow it away—another that it looks broke off in the middle: in short, you must make it a little 'fatter,' at all events, diminish the 'bend' . . . for the owner of it is quite distressed about it at present".
D. E. Williams. The Life and Correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Kt. London, 1831, vol. 1, pp. 124–25, 128, reports that while it was well received, the "muff and furred cloak . . . were deemed . . . inconsistent with uncovered arms, and other circumstances of the painting"; notes that comparisons between it and Reynolds's Mrs. Billington as St. Cecilia were "not unfavorable".
Allan Cunningham. The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters and Sculptors. 5, New York, 1868, pp. 147–48.
E. Barrington Nash. "Miss Farren: Painted by Lawrence, Engraved by Bartolozzi." Magazine of Art 9 (1886), p. 143, ill. between pp. 142 and 143, discusses the states of the engraving, which he concludes is by Bartolozzi despite the presence of Knight's name on the trial proof.
Charlotte Louise Henrietta Papendiek. Court and Private Life in the Time of Queen Charlotte. London, 1887, vol. 2, pp. 198–99.
Ronald Gower. Romney and Lawrence. London, 1892, pp. 30–31, 95.
Julian Marshall. A Catalogue of Engraved National Portraits in the National Art Library. London, 1895, p. 175.
Ronald Sutherland Gower. Sir Thomas Lawrence. London, 1900, pp. 7–8, 127, ill. opp. p. 8 (Bartolozzi engraving).
Armand Dayot. Famous Beauties in Art. Boston, 1901, pp. 247–49, ill.
John van Dyke and Timothy Cole. Old English Masters Engraved by Timothy Cole. New York, 1902, pp. 166, 169–70, ill.
Louise M. Richter. "The Old English and Italian Masters at Burlington House." Connoisseur 8 (March 1904), p. 169, ill. p. 171.
Beatrice Erskine. Beautiful Women in History and Art. London, 1905, ill. (one in color) between pp. 210 and 211 (engravings after Bertolozzi).
Sir Thomas Lawrence's Letter-Bag. New York, 1906, pp. 11–15.
R. S. Clouston. Sir Thomas Lawrence. London, , p. x, ill.
Masters in Art: Lawrence 8 (January 1907), pp. 35–36, pl. I.
W[illiam]. Roberts. "Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan's Pictures: The Early English School, III." Connoisseur 17 (February 1907), pp. 71–73, ill., observes that it was hung as a pendant to Sir Joshua Reynolds's Miss Billington as St. Cecilia.
W[illiam]. Roberts in "Modern Schools." Pictures in the Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan at Princes Gate & Dover House, London. 3, London, 1907, ill. (color, frontispiece).
W[illiam]. Roberts in "English School." Pictures in the Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan at Princes Gate & Dover House, London. 1, London, 1907, unpaginated.
Philip L. Hale. Great Portraits: Women. Boston, 1909, unnumbered pl.
Freeman O'Donoghue. Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. 2, London, 1910, p. 39.
M. H. Spielmann. British Portrait Painting to the Opening of the Nineteenth Century. London, 1910, vol. 2, pp. 62, 67–68, pl. 108.
W. J. Lawrence. "The Portraits of Elizabeth Farren, Countess of Derby." Connoisseur 29 (February 1911), pp. 98–100.
Walter Armstrong. Lawrence. New York, 1913, pp. 29–32, 131, pl. XVI, proposes that the conception may have been suggested by Reynolds's Lady Crosbie.
"Paintings in the Morgan Collection." Art and Progress 4 (July 1913), ill. p. 1035.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "A Loan Exhibition of Mr. Morgan's Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (January 1913), p. 13, ill. on cover [reprinted as pamphlet, "Collection of Paintings Lent by J. Pierpont Morgan," at least 7 eds., p. 12, ill. on cover].
Algernon Graves in Sixty Drawings by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. Exh. cat., Edward Gallery. London, 1913, p. 8.
Guide to the Loan Exhibition of the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1914, pp. 104–5.
Walter Armstrong. Art in Great Britain and Ireland. New York, 1921, p. 205, fig. 370 (print).
William T. Whitley. "An Eighteenth-Century Art Chronicler: Sir Henry Bate Dudley, Bart." Walpole Society 13 (1924–25), p. 48, mentions a Gainsborough drawing of a lady walking in the Mall (British Museum) which, according to a label on the frame, since lost, Lawrence studied when painting Elizabeth Farren.
William T. Whitley. Artists and Their Friends in England, 1700–1799. London, 1928, vol. 2, pp. 129–31, quotes Reynolds: "In you, Sir, the world will expect to see accomplished what I have failed to achieve.".
Esther Singleton. Old World Masters in New World Collections. New York, 1929, pp. 420–22, ill.
C. H. Collins Baker. British Painting. London, 1933, p. 281, as Nellie Farren.
T. L[eman]. H[are]. "Masterpieces from the Morgan Collection Sold." Apollo 21 (March 1935), p. 167, ill.
"Rundschau: Amerika, New York." Pantheon 15 (May 1935), p. 150, ill. p. 147.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 788, no. 2222, ill.
Paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. Exh. cat., Thos. Agnew & Sons. London, 1951, p. 33.
"Met Reviews Its Harkness Benefactions." Art Digest 26 (October 1, 1951), ill. p. 13.
Elizabeth E. Gardner. "Portrait of an Actress." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 9 (April 1951), pp. 197–200, ill. (overall and details), color detail on cover, suggests that comparison with Bartolozzi's print shows that several inches have been trimmed at the lower edge of the painting.
Douglas Goldring. Regency Portrait Painter: The Life of Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. London, 1951, pp. 81–85, ill. opp. p. 48, points out that when the Royal Academy catalogue was reprinted, it was titled Portrait of a Celebrated Actress.
H[enry]. L[a]. F[arge]. "In the Harkness Manner." Art News 50 (October 1951), p. 41, ill. (overall and color detail).
"Illustrations of Outstanding Harkness Gifts." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (October 1951), ill. p. 67.
Kenneth Romney Towndrow. "The Craft and Appreciation of Stipple and Crayon Engraving in England." Apollo 57 (February 1953), pp. 45–47, figs. I, III (engraving, overall and detail).
Kenneth Garlick. Sir Thomas Lawrence. London, 1954, pp. 3–4, 37, 67, 88, pl. 3, mentions that its vivacity "augured extraordinary powers of development".
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), ill. p. 43.
A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), p. 106.
David Piper. The English Face. London, 1957, p. 230 [ed. 1992, p. 176, colorpl. 182].
Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1959, unpaginated, no. 48, ill. (color).
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Regency Painter. Exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum. Worcester, Mass., 1960, pp. 10–11.
Kenneth Garlick. "A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings, and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence." Walpole Society 39 (1962–64), p. 79.
Geoffrey Agnew. Agnew's, 1817–1967. London, 1967, unpaginated, ill.
"Collectors' Questions: Her Noblest Role." Country Life 146 (August 7, 1969), p. 333.
The Genius of British Painting. London, 1975, ill. p. 241.
Edward Morris and Martin Hopkinson. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool: Foreign Catalogue. [Liverpool], 1977, text vol., p. 354.
Geraldine Norman. Nineteenth-Century Painters and Painting: A Dictionary. Berkeley, 1977, p. 129, ill.
Suzanne Farran. "Portrait of a Great Lady." Country Life (November 1, 1979), p. 1532.
Michael Levey. Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1769–1830. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. 1979, pp. 11, 15–16, 27, no. 4, ill. p. 27 and colorpl. I.
Aileen Ribeiro. "Furs in Fashion: The Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries." Connoisseur 202 (December 1979), p. 228, ill., describes the sitter's "sumptuous silk coat edged with fox".
Kenneth Garlick. "The Glamour of Lawrence." Apollo 111 (January 1980), pp. 66–67, ill.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 378, 384, fig. 680 (color).
Adeline R. Tintner. "Henry James's 'The Outcry' and the Art Drain of 1908–9." Apollo 113 (February 1981), p. 112.
John Hayes and Lindsay Stainton. Gainsborough Drawings. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983, p. 180, ill.
Aileen Ribeiro Courtauld Institute of Art, London. The Dress Worn At Masquerades in England, 1730 to 1790, and Its Relation to Fancy Dress in Portraiture. New York, 1984, pl. 112.
Kenneth Garlick. Sir Thomas Lawrence: A Complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings. Oxford, 1989, pp. 16, 24, 187–88, no. 294a, colorpl. 5.
John Wilson. "The Romantics, 1790–1830." The British Portrait, 1660–1960. Woodbridge, England, 1991, pp. 257, 261, 264, colorpl. 44, finds it difficult to believe that Miss Farren is nine years older than Mrs. Billington.
John Human Wilson. "The Life and Work of John Hoppner (1758–1810)." PhD diss., Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1992, vol. 1, pp. 63, 158.
Kenneth Garlick. Sir Thomas Lawrence: Portraits of an Age, 1790–1830. Exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. Alexandria, Va., 1993, pp. 10, 13, 54–55, no. 18, ill. (color).
J. G. Links. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. September 13, 1993, states that the fur is "quite unidentifiable".
Vivien Raynor. "British Portraitist Makes the Most of the Romantic Moment." New York Times (March 21, 1993), p. 24, ill.
Aileen Ribeiro. The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820. New Haven, 1995, pp. 78, 80, pl. 84.
Leonée Ormond in The Dictionary of Art. 18, New York, 1996, pp. 891, 894, fig. 2.
Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 4, 64–68, ill. (color), details on front and back covers (color).
Bettina Gockel. Kunst und Politik der Farbe: Gainsboroughs Portraitmalerei. Berlin, 1999, p. 87, fig. 84 (in reverse).
Jean Strouse. Morgan: American Financier. New York, 1999, pp. 7, 504, states that Morgan bought it from Agnew's for $200,000.
Ruth Pullin in European Masterpieces: Six Centuries of Paintings from the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, 2000, p. 104.
Jean Strouse. "J. Pierpont Morgan, Financier and Collector." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Winter 2000), p. 32–33, fig. 36 (color).
Robyn Asleson in British Paintings at the Huntington. [San Marino, Calif.], 2001, p. 5.
Ian McIntyre. Joshua Reynolds: The Life and Times of the First President of the Royal Academy. London, 2003, p. 506.
Michael Levey. Sir Thomas Lawrence. New Haven, 2005, pp. 8–9, 14, 90, 92–93, 291, 306–7, 314, 316, 321 n. 21, p. 325 n. 65, ill. p. vi (color detail), colorpls. 6, 48, 170 (overall and details), suggests that the pose was influenced by a late drawing by Gainsborough of "A Lady Walking to the Right, with Head Turned" (British Museum, London).
Elizabeth A. Pergam. "From Manchester to Manhattan: The Transatlantic Art Trade After 1857." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 87, no. 2 (2005), pp. 68–69, 87, 88.
Gill Perry. Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre 1768–1820. New Haven, 2007, pp. 72, 185, ill. pp. 168, 190 (color details), fig. 133 (color).
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 124, 142, 210–15, no. 105, ill. (color), fig. 138 (x-radiograph detail), frontispiece (color detail).
A. Cassandra Albinson in Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London. New Haven, 2010, pp. xiv, 34–35, 105, fig. 34 (color detail).
Lucy Peltz in Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London. New Haven, 2010, pp. 88, 98–101, 136, no. 3, ill. (color), cat. 3.2 (color detail), mentions a "Study of a Lady" by Gainsborough (British Museum, London) with an inscription on the back noting that Lawrence had studied it for several days "when Lord Derby employed him to paint Miss Farren".
Malcolm Warner. "Books: British Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 153 (April 2011), p. 257, reviews Ref. Baetjer 2009.