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Thomas Gainsborough RA, 1727–1788, British
Miss Susanna Gardiner (1752-1818)
between 1758 and 1759
Oil on canvas
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:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
cap (headgear) | child | oval | portrait
Associated People:
Gardiner, Susanna (1752-1818)
Not on view
Curatorial Comment:
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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.
--Matthew Hargraves,2014-03-07
Exhibition History:
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Painting in England 1700-1850 - From The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (Yale University Art Gallery, 1965-04-15 - 1965-06-20)

Gainsborough's Family (Gainsborough's House, 1988-06-11 - 1988-09-18)

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

Gainsborough's Family Album (Princeton University Art Museum, 2019-02-23 - 2019-06-05)

Gainsborough's Family Album (National Portrait Gallery, 2018-11-22 - 2019-02-03)

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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)

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)

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

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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