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By Katharine Baetjer

Британская портретная живопись из собрания The Metropolitan Museum of paintings

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Only members of the royal family and well-known public figureswere customarilyidentifiedby name in the earlyAcademyexhibitioncatalogues. ," and his avidly curiousreadershipknew her to be GraceDalrympleElliott. By then the newspaperswere reportingon his formerwife's liaison with Lord Cholmondeley,who must have commissionedthe portrait;not long thereafterthe princeof Walesadmiredit on a visit to Houghton, Cholmondeley'sfamily seat, where it remaineduntil sometimeafter I885. GraceElliott meanwhilehad become one of London'sbetter-knowndemimondainesand the motherof a daughterfatheredeitherby Cholmondeleyor, as she claimed,by the princehimself.

Gainsborough had a natural gift for drawing and painting and a highly sophisticated artistic education. He was a fine colorist with a fluid and assured technique " i-: . Ir, Y . -. - , -* : % I ' I/, ,,,, . I1. I.... :? / 7 J-" . I. '* 1'--; /. t;,' ' Cfz:.. j'^i'1 . e' ' { . N I,, . Detail, opposite, of THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH Mrs. In sum, it was, and in generalstill is, acknowledged thathe and Reynoldswere the most gifted paintersof late GeorgianEngland. During the Bathand Londonyears Gainsborough'seye for femalebeauty and capacityto captureit on canvaswere legendary,as was his instinctfor dealingwith notableandnotoriousclients.

Thereafter he was indentured to a jeweler. It is thought that he was working as a painter by the late i770s. In 1779 or 1780 he married Ann Leslie, a wealthy widow and mother of three who was eleven years his senior. By July 1784 he was preparing to leave her and their two sons for Rome, where he remained until spring 1786. Visits to London en route are also assumed. By late summer of 1787 he was settled in Edinburgh and painting the 58 y lord presidentof Scotland'shighest court, the Courtof Session.

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