Laurence, Samuel (1812-1844)


Laurence, Samuel (1812-1844)


Samuel Laurence (1812-1844), who was well-known for his chalk and crayon portraits of Victorian writers, was a longtime friend of George Henry Lewes’s. He asked in 1860 if he could draw George Eliot’s head and shoulders. She initially put him off but Lewes agreed she would do it after they returned from a trip abroad. Laurence asked for six sittings, which exhausted Eliot. By August 28th, 1860, she had had enough and refused additional sittings. After initially giving Laurence permission to exhibit the portrait in the Royal Academy, Lewes later rescinded, requesting that it not be shared beyond the doors of Laurence's own studio. This fallout has not been adequately explained by biographers. Laurence's portrait of George Eliot was not exhibited; in June of 1861, Eliot's publisher, John Blackwood, purchased the portrait, where for many years it hung in the back parlor of his office in George Street, Edinburgh. See GE Portrait Gallery.


  • George Eliot Archive
, edited by Beverley Park Rilett,