Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88)
Like the portrait by Reynolds, this picture was also painted to celebrate Theodosia Magill's marriage to Sir John Meade. Gainsborough was one of the greatest portrait painters of his day (and also one of the founders of the British school of landscape painting).
A pupil of the French engraver Hubert Gravelot in London in the early 1740s, he later worked in Suffolk and then Ipswich, by which point his reputation as a portraitist was well established.
In 1759 he moved to Bath and there evolved a new style of portrait appropriate for his fashionable sitters - an amalgamation of the elegance of Van Dyck, whom he much admired, with his own informal approach.
In 1774 he settled in London, where he became Reynolds' chief rival in portraiture and a favourite painter of the royal family. This portrait dates from his period in Bath 1759-74. Note the elegance of the costume and the informal pose of the sitter, who confronts the spectator full-face, with an air of friendliness and welcome.
Image: Miss Theodosia Magill (1744-1817), afterwards Countess of Clanwilliam Painted by Thomas Gainsborough 1765. BELUM. U5067. Click to enlarge.
Purchased with the aid of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and the Esmé Mitchell Trust, 1998
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