Portrait of Mrs Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Oil on canvas
Width: 90 cm ( frame ); Depth: 9 cm ( frame ); Height: 102.5 cm ( frame ); Height: 76.6 cm ( canvas ); Width: 63.8 cm ( canvas );
Courtauld, Samuel; gift; 1932
About this work
Margaret Burr married Gainsborough in 1746 and this portrait may have been painted to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. Her direct gaze is striking for its suggestion of intimacy between painter and sitter. Her pose derives from a classical sculpture of pudicity (meaning modesty or chastity); a witty reference to the virtuous fidelity of a wife. The oval shape formed by the mantle also suggests a subtle, personalised version of the painted architectural ovals that frame more formal 18th- century portraits.
(Permanent collection label)
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Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London