A painter of landscapes, portraits and sporting subjects, Lawrence Toynbee had a particular gift for conveying movement. Lawrence Toynbee was born in London on 22 December 1922, into a distinguished family. He was the youngest son of Arnold Toynbee, historian and social philosopher; grandson of Gilbert Murray, classical scholar and poet; and – through his mother – great-grandson of George James Howard, Earl of Carlisle, the landscape painter. In addition, a brother, Philip, became a novelist and published diarist, and fathered Polly Toynbee, the Guardian journalist. (His portrait of his father is at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, while that of his grandfather, Gilbert Murray, is in the National Portrait Gallery.)
In 1930, Arnold Toynbee and his family, including Lawrence, moved to Ganthorpe, Yorkshire, a hamlet on the Castle Howard estate. His mother, Rosalind, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1933 and, as a result, he was sent to Ampleforth College, where he proved himself more on the cricket field than in the classroom, as he did during his time at New College, Oxford. He would become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, and Lord’s would build a fine collection of his paintings.
He also played golf, rugby, squash and tennis, and sportsmen in action became the favourite subject for his art.
Serving in the army in the Second World War, Toynbee was invalided out of the Coldstream Guards in 1945. In that year, he married Jean Asquith, a granddaughter of former Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith. At the same time, he began to study at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford, where, during the following two years his teachers included Percy Horton, Rodrigo Moynihan, Kenneth Rowntree, Albert Rutherston and Randolph Schwabe.
On completing his studies in 1947, Toynbee became Art Master at St Edward’s School for Boys, in Oxford, and Visiting Tutor at the Ruskin School (until 1962), later lecturing at the Oxford School of Art (1960-63). In 1955, his mother gave him the hamlet of Ganthorpe, though he achieved his ambition to live there only in 1963, when he became Senior Lecturer in Painting at Bradford College of Art. On beginning to teach at Morley College in London, in 1967, he commuted from Ganthorpe on a weekly basis. Between 1969 and 1972, he was also Director of the Morley Arts Centre and Gallery, in which capacity he was responsible for some notable exhibitions.
Among his own exhibitions, Toynbee had solo shows at the Mayor Gallery, the Leicester Galleries (1961-69) and the Fine Art Society (including his last London show in 1989). A retrospective was held at the Morley Gallery in 1975. In 1972, Toynbee finally retired to Ganthorpe, though continued to teach at Bradford and Ampleforth.
A collection of his cricket pictures is on display in the Old Library in the Lords’ Cricket Ground pavilion.