Lawrence Leifchild Toynbee was born in London on 22nd December 1922, the third son to historian Professor Arnold Toynbee and Rosalind Mary Toynbee, whose mother Lady Mary Howard of the Earls of Carlisle, inherited Castle Howard. Having moved to Ganthorpe near York in 1930, Rosalind converted to Catholicism and Lawrence was sent to Ampleforth. It was there that he discovered a general sporting prowess, excelling at cricket in particular. He went on to New College, Oxford and made a name for himself following a match in 1942 against an Army XI, taking the wickets of three first-class batsmen. Following his graduation he joined the Coldstream Guards and fought in Northern France. A charming, gregarious but highly sensitive man, he found the horrors of war too much to bear and was invalided out of the army in 1945.
Following the conflict he married Jean Asquith (b.1921), granddaughter of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, who became his emotional rock and nurtured his artistic ability; producing six daughters for him. He enrolled at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford and began by painting railways, a passion since childhood, producing views of Paddington and the District Line, in the late 1940s. By the 1950s he began combining his two great skills and executed his first sporting subjects; clearly drawing on his knowledge and experience of each particular game. Toynbee’s works are imbued with a superb and uncannily accurate sense of movement. This effect is gained to a large degree by the absence of figurative detail, leaving instead a silhouette of movement that perfectly captures the fleeting moment of sporting drama. He also had a great affection, and understood the vital importance of stadia, revelling in the individual character of each particular venue.
Toynbee turned to teaching in his latter years and was Master of Art at St. Edward’s College, Oxford (1947-62), Bradford College of Art, Ampleforth where he was a senior lecturer (1962-67) as well as Morley College, London (1967-72). While nurturing others he continued to produce works of his own and held numerous exhibitions including in 1984 when he painted “The Nursery End of Lords” after which Lord’s acquired a collection of his work. In 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967 and 1972 he exhibited at The Leicester Galleries (and at the Mayor Gallery), in 1980 Agnew’s Gallery two successful exhibitions at the Fine Art Society, London in 1985 and 1989. In 1953 he submitted to the Football Association Exhibition “Chelsea v Spurs at Stamford Bridge” and “Midweek Practice at Stamford Bridge”.
His works can be found in museums in: Blackburn, Museum and Art Gallery; Coventry, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum; Cumbria, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery; London, Royal Academy, The Government Art Collection, Lord’s Museum; The National Portrait Gallery; Merseyside, The Atkinson Art Gallery; Oxford, New College, University of Oxford, St. Edmund Hall and Worcester College; Twickenham, The World Rugby Museum and York, York Museums Trust.