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Creator:
Thomas Gainsborough RA, 1727–1788, British
Title:

Miss Susanna Gardiner (1752-1818)

Former Title(s):

Miss Susan Gardiner

Miss Susan Gardiner when a Child

Date:
between 1758 and 1759
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 24 3/8 × 20 1/8 inches (61.9 × 51.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.294
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
cap (headgear) | child | oval | portrait
Associated People:
Gardiner, Susanna (1752-1818)
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:789
Export:
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In October 1758, Thomas Gainsborough left Ipswich for a six-month stay in Bath, hoping to find more work as a portrait painter. He quickly made a favorable impression. As one contemporary noted, “We have a Painter here who takes the most exact likenesses I ever yet saw.” Alongside commissions, Gainsborough was producing portraits of his immediate and extended family at this time, presumably intended as presents. This sensitive portrait of a young girl must have been painted on his return to Suffolk, for the sitter is Gainsborough’s niece Susanna Gardiner. Her mother, Susan, was one of Gainsborough’s elder sisters and worked as a milliner in his home town of Sudbury. The sensitive handling of paint, which almost imitates pastel, and the subtle coloring reflect Gainsborough’s growing abilities as a painter and mark a departure from the small full-length portraits he had produced in Suffolk (one of which is shown nearby).

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



In October 1758 Gainsborough left Suffolk, where he had been living since 1749, for a six-month stay in Bath hoping to test the market and find more work as a portrait painter. Since the mid-1750s he had been moving away from the small-scale conversation pieces that defined his early career in Sudbury and Ipswich, towards a more ambitious mode of portraiture beginning with head and shoulder portraits of often remarkable sensitivity. These quickly made a favorable impression in fashionable Bath. As one resident noted: ‘We have a Painter here who takes the most exact likenesses I ever yet saw’. This portrait of his niece Susanna Gardiner belongs to this transitional moment in the artist’s career and was either painted shortly before his trial period in Bath or, perhaps, on his brief return to Suffolk in the spring of 1759 when he spent two months settling his affairs before moving his entire family to Bath in June. Susanna’s mother, Susan, was one of Gainsborough’s sisters who worked as a milliner in their native town of Sudbury and the portrait was perhaps intended as a parting present for her. The sensitive handling of paint, which almost imitates pastel, and subtle coloring with only a limited palette reflect Gainsborough’s growing abilities as a painter and presage the achievements of his successful Bath period.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2014



In October 1758 Gainsborough left Ipswich for a six-month stay in Bath hoping to find more work as a portrait painter. He quickly made a favorable impression. As one Bath resident noted: ‘We have a Painter here who takes the most exact likenesses I ever yet saw’. Alongside the business of painting faces, Gainsborough was also producing sensitive portraits of his immediate and extended family at this time, presumably intended as presents. This portrait of his niece Susanna Gardiner must have been painted on a return visit to his native Sudbury in Suffolk; her mother, Susan, was one of Gainsborough’s elder sisters and worked there as a milliner. The sensitive handling of paint, which almost imitates pastel, and subtle coloring reflect Gainsborough’s growing abilities as a painter and mark a departure from the small full-length portraits he had produced in Suffolk before his stay in Bath.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2011



In October 1758 Gainsborough left Ipswich for a six-month stay in Bath, hoping to find more work as a portrait painter. He quickly made a favorable impression. As one Bath resident noted: "We have a Painter here who takes the most exact likenesses I ever yet saw." Alongside commissions, Gainsborough was producing portraits of his immediate and extended family at this time, presumably intended as presents. This sensitive portrait of a young girl must have been painted on his return to Suffolk, for the sitter is Gainsborough's niece Susanna Gardiner. Her mother, Susan, was one of Gainsborough's elder sisters and worked as a milliner in his home town of Sudbury. The sensitive handling of paint, which almost imitates pastel, and the subtle coloring reflect Gainsborough's growing abilities as a painter and mark a departure from the small full-length portraits he had produced in Suffolk, one of which is shown nearby.

Gallery label for Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11)

Hugh Belsey, Thomas Gainsborough: The portraits, fancy pictures and copies after old masters, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, p. 365, cat. 383, NJ18.G16 B453 2019 (LC) Oversize (YCBA)

Christie's sale catalogue : Early English portraits : 11 May 1923, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 11, 1923, p. 22, Lot 105, Fiche B51 (YCBA)

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 96-97, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 24, ND466 G67 (YCBA)

M. Knoedler & Co, Exhibition of Pictures by Gainsborough, 1727-1788 : Monday, December 3rd to Saturday, December 15th, 1923, New York, NY, 1923, p. 17-18, no. 13, Full text available online. See Remarks Full text available online at http://library.metmuseum.org/record=b1598779

Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, p. 59 (v.1), no. 214, pl. 24, ND466 R68 1964/65 (YCBA) Also available on Microfiche: Fiche B214 (YCBA)

Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon. , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 130 (v.1), no. 247, pl. 88, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA)

David H. Solkin, Gainsborough's Family Album, National Portrait Gallery, London, p. 97, NJ18.G16 S65 2018 (LC) Oversize (YCBA)

Ellis Waterhouse, Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 33, 1948-1950, p.46, N12 W35 A12 + (YCBA)

Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965. , vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, p. 24 (v.1), no. 87, pl. 24, ND466 Y35 (YCBA)


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