Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Considering that photography was invented c.1840, there are very few known photographs of T.E.Lawrence's parents: (Sir) Thomas Robert Tighe Chapman (1846-1919) and Sarah Lawrence (nee Junner, 1861-1959). Thomas Chapman was something of a photographer, and more or less taught his son Thomas Edward Lawrence all he knew.
But at the National Portrait Gallery's "T.E.Lawrence Exhibition" in December 1988, visitors were introduced to a number of images of the pair. There was just the one photographic image of Thomas senior, taken it is believed c.1864 whilst he was attending Eton College. In private hands it is seemingly still the only one so far known, and unfortunately was not reproduced in the Exhibition Catalogue. It had, however, apparently been already first published in Plymouth's Evening Herald of 17th August 1988, and then again in Ireland on Sunday of 14th April 2002. This latter publication also contained photographs of elderly Sarah Lawrence and Edith Chapman (Thomas Chapman's wife). Although Thomas Chapman's photograph is to a certain extent now in the public domain, for copyright reasons it is not possible to publish here.
With Sarah Lawrence, we are luckier. At the above Exhibition, and in the Catalogue, there was a photograph from the Bodleian Library of her with her four elder sons (including TEL aged 5 years) standing in the doorway of Langley Lodge, Hampshire. Then there was a later head-and-shoulders one of Sarah c.1910 from a private collection. The colour portrait of her dated c.1936 from the artist's family, also appeared in black and white in the Ireland on Sunday. The Exhibition and Catalogue finally contained a black and white photograph of Sarah c.1940 (in private hands), when she would be aged about 80.
Finally, there is another oft-published one of her in old age, taken with her eldest son Robert, at the doorway of their house in Swanage, Dorset, taken not long after their return from China in 1935 following TEL's tragic death.
The writer would be interested in learning of any other images of TEL's parents.

No comments:

Post a Comment