Arts Everyday Living: Through the Eyes of Gainsborough-The Haunting Beauty of a Singer & Poet

Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1785-1787, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Title: Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1785-1787

Artist: Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1798)

How many artists have been in love with their subject? 18th century British portraitist Thomas  Gainsborough is renowned today for  The Blue Boy, just one of his  numerous commissions ranging from prosperous members of the English gentry to King George III and his queen. Yet his depiction of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan above, now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., captures a haunting beauty that is unique, even surpassing his portrayal of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the great-great-great grand aunt of Princess Diana.

However, no evidence of a romantic relationship exists between Gainsborough and the wife of the popular playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Born Elizabeth Ann Linley, she was  multi-talented, already recognized as an accomplished soprano in her teens, then later as a poet and writer. Unfortunately, her marriage to Sheridan was troubled, the sympathetic Gainsborough immortalizing the emotions of sadness and regret in her expression.




In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.


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