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Portrait of Elizabeth Uvedale, Half Length, in a Pink Dress with Green Bows and Lace Sleeves and Shawl.
|Title:||Portrait of Elizabeth Uvedale, Half Length, in a Pink Dress with Green Bows and
Lace Sleeves and Shawl.
|Artist:||Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. (1727-1788) British|
|Detail:||Oil on canvas, feigned oval: 30 x 25 in. Frame:37x32 in. Late 1750s|
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.
Ellis Waterhouse, Gainsborough, London 1958, 1966
Mary Woodall (ed.), The Letters of Thomas Gainsborough, revised edition, 1963
John Hayes, Thomas Gainsborough, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1980
John Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, 2 volumes, London 1982
The present portrait
The sitter was the wife of Captain Samuel Uvedale, of Bosmere House, Suffolk, the son of the Reverend Samuel Uvedale (1699-1775), Rector of Barking, Suffolk, and his wife, Sophia Spragge.
Her husband, grandson of the celebrated botanist, Robert Uvedale (1642-1722), builder of Bosmere, pursued a successful naval career. He rose in the naval hierarchy being promoted to Lieutenant (1747), Commander (1758), and then Captain (1760); commanding the frigate Boreas when she served in the Leeward Islands for two years.
In 1779, he was Captain of the Ajax and sailed with Rodney’s fleet to relieve Gibraltar, engaging the Spanish at the battle of St.Vincent on 16th January 1780, and later, in the West Indies, taking part in the action against de Guichen on 15th April 1780. Invalided home with despatches subsequently, he was later promoted to Rear Admiral in 1789 on the retired list on half pay.
The present portrait was most probably conceived as a pendant to Gainsborough’s portrait of the sitter’s husband, in which he is shown wearing the undress uniform of a Captain (sold, Christie’s, London, 15th April 1988, lot 123, for £24,000).
In a letter dated 15th December 1966, the late Professor Sir Ellis Waterhouse placed both portraits at the end of the 1750s, when Gainsborough had returned from London to his native Suffolk, establishing a portrait practice in Ipswich.
The sitter’s father-in- law, the Reverend Samuel Uvedale, was also painted by Gainsborough, when the artist was living in Bath (Yale, Paul Mellon collection; E. K. Waterhouse Gainsborough (London, Edward Hulton Limited, 1958, page 94, no.689).
George Harland Peck, 9, Belgrave Square, London, until his death on 21 st January
His Executrix, Agnes Harland Peck, Christie’s, London, 25 th June 1920, lot 62
D. R. Russell;
His Executors’sale, Christie’s, London, 22 nd June 1979, lot 128, illustrated (sold
With Thomas Agnew & Sons, 43, Old Bond Street, London, 1980;
John and Sylvia Tapp;
Their Executors’ sale, Christie’s, London, British Pictures 1500-1850, 8 th June 2006,
lot 56, illustrated (sold £42,000);
Private Collection, United Kingdom.
London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, The Portrait Surveyed / British Portraiture
1670-1870, 3 rd June to 1 st August 1980, no. 7, illustrated.
Thomas Agnew & Sons, Exhibition Catalogue, 1980, page 7;
Susan Sloman Gainsborough in Bath (New Haven and London, Yale University
Press, 2002, page 227, under note 79