Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Fletcher 91749-1852), Half-length, In a white dress and brown fringed shawl
|Title:||Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Fletcher 91749-1852), Half-length, In a white dress and brown fringed shawl|
|Artist:||Thomas Gainsborough, R.A.(1727-1788) British|
|Detail:||Oil on canvas, feigned oval 29¾ x 24⅝ in . Frame: 36 x 31 in.|
The portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough was born at Sudbury, Suffolk, the fifth son of a cloth merchant. He was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to a London silversmith, and was taught by Hubert Gravelot, a French book-illustrator.
By 1745 he had established his own studio in London. He married Margaret Burr in 1746, and by 1748 had taken up residence in Suffolk. He moved to Ipswich in 1752, and settled at Bath as a portraitist in 1759. He took as an apprentice his nephew, Gainsborough Dupont (1754-97) in 1772.
In 1774, established as a fashionable portrait painter, he moved to London, living at Schomberg House, Pall Mall. Despite his great success as a portraitist, he always maintained that he preferred painting landscapes.
Gainsborough exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1761 to 1769, and became a foundation member of the Royal Academy in 1768. He first exhibited there the following year, but in 1773 quarrelled with the Academy over the hanging of his pictures, and did not exhibit there again until 1777. In 1784 he again quarrelled with them and never again exhibited at the Academy, instead organising a series of annual exhibitions in his studio at Schomberg House.
He received commissions from the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland in 1777, and from the King and Queen in 1781. Gainsborough died in London after a reconciliation with his great rival Sir Joshua Reynolds, who eulogised him at the Royal Academy. He is buried in Kew Churchyard. A posthumous sale of his pictures and drawings was held at Schomberg House in 1789.
Captain K. D. Maclachlan, of Seaforth Highlanders, most probably by family descent from the sitter, his great-great grandmother;
His sale, Robinson, Fisher & Co., Willis’s Rooms, King Street, St. James’s Square, London, An Important Collection of Pictures of the Dutch and Early English Schools, 27thJune 1912, lot 171, as‘A Portrait of Mrs. Thomas Mylne, née Ann Hunter, of Bowness, Dundee, Great-Great Grandmother of the present owner. Born 1749, died 1852. Bust portrait, facing the spectator, in low-necked Dress, trimmed with Pearls, Hair dressed high, painted in an oval, 30 in. by 24 in.’, illustrated (sold to Pawsey & Payne 3,800 guineas);
With Pawsey & Payne, 1, Bury Street, St. James’s, London, after June 1912;
With Newhouse Galleries, New York, 1985;
Anon. sale, Christie’s, London, British Pictures, 16thJune 2000, lot 34, illustrated, under the present title (sold £64,250);
Private Collection, United Kingdom.
A.C.R. Carter (ed.) The Year’s Art 1913 (London, Hutchinson and Co., 1913), page 372;
- K Waterhouse Gainsborough(London, Edward Hulton Limited, 1958) page 67,
- 259, as ‘Fletcher, Mrs. Thomas (Mrs Mylne: 1749-1852)’;
Waterhouse suggests that this picture is the companion to Gainsborough’s portrait of Colonel Thomas Fletcher (Waterhouse, op.cit., no. 258), of the same format, which he dates to the artist’s later Bath period.
The sitter was born Ann Hunter on 26thDecember 1748 in Scotland, the daughter of Alexander Hunter(born 1720) and is wife Amelia, née Graham (1711-1803). She married Thomas Fletcher on 22ndJanuary 1775, and bore him a son and a daughter. Following his death in India in 1780, she married Thomas Mylne. The 1841 Scotland census has her living in Dundee, aged eighty-one. She died in Invergowrie, Angus, Scotland, in 1852, aged one hundred and three.