Museums and Art

“Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan”, Thomas Gainsborough - description of the painting

“Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan”, Thomas Gainsborough - description of the painting

Portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan - Thomas Gainsborough. 220 x 154 cm

A romantic lady sitting with limp hands in deep thought, at one time was quite famous in London and beyond - this is Elizabeth Ann Sheridan. She was a professional musician, vocalist who enjoyed great success with the public, but in 1773 abandoned her promising career. As a true Englishwoman, she laid a professional future on the altar of the family - a talented girl married the famous Irish poet, satirist and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

When Mrs. Sheridan commissioned her portrait from fashionable English painter Thomas Gainsborough, she was 31 years old. After 7 years, a woman will die from tuberculosis.

The painter was a friend of the Linley family (the heroine’s parents) and the charming Elizabeth, who was also called the most beautiful singer in England, appeared on his canvases more than once.

The work on the portrait of Mrs. Sheridan was for the author, like a balm for the soul. Firstly, Gainsborough himself was a landscape painter by his personal preferences and therefore placed his heroine against the background of an emotional landscape. Secondly, the heroine herself adored the village and was rather cold about secular city life and the plot of the portrait completely suited her. So it was the perfect model for Gainsborough.

Amid the windy landscape, Elizabeth looks like a beautiful sculpture with a melancholy face and an article of complete dignity. Attention to detail and psychological depth make it possible to attribute this work to the genre of romantic portraiture. You can notice the emotional and even physical call of the heroine with nature - just compare the hair of the model and the branches of a tree in the background, sunset with the color of the dress. Yes, and the thoughtfulness of Elizabeth herself is in absolute harmony with the desert landscape. Her figure is like a lonely tree at the left edge of the picture, which is opposed to the flow of wind. It is thin, fragile, vulnerable.

At first, the work was with friends of the Sheridan family, after it was sold to the Rothschild banking clan and was inherited for future generations, and since 1936 it has been exhibited at the National Museum of Art in Washington.


Watch the video: Lecture 5, Part 2: Wilde and Aestheticism (November 2021).