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Mr and Mrs Andrews, an oil on canvas painting, was executed by Thomas Gainsborough around 1750. The painting is currently in the National Gallery, located in Central London. The painting was commissioned by Mrs Frances Andrews and Mr Robert Andrews as a marriage portrait.
The painting is among Gainsborough's most famous works. Until 1960, it remained in the sitters' family and was not known well before appearing in a 1927 exhibition in Ipswich, after which the portrait was requested on a regular basis for other exhibitions held in Britain and abroad. Critics praised it for its freshness and charm. By the post-war era, the portrait's iconic status was established; it was one of the 4 paintings selected to represent British art held in an exhibition located in Paris, and celebrating the 1953 Coronation of Elizabeth II. Soon, Mr and Mrs Andrews started receiving hostile scrutiny as a model of the capitalist and paternalist society of eighteenth-century England, but the painting remains a strong popular favourite.
The work is a unique combination of 2 common types of artwork of that time: landscape view of the beautiful English countryside and a double portrait, which is seen in this painting as a recently married couple (Frances and Robert Andrews). In the painting, Robert is cradling his gun under his arm, and his dog is looking up at him. He is standing proudly in the middle of his huge country estate, which had become more extensive after his marriage. Robert's attitude in the painting is aloof yet businesslike. On the right side of the painting, the sheaves of corn are a standard symbol of fertility. The composition is unusual; the figures are pushed to one side, although it gives the newly married couple a proprietorial air, like they are proudly showing the world their land.
Gainsborough's work mostly consisted of these 2 different genres. However, their striking combination beside each other in an extended horizontal format seen in this painting is unique in Thomas' oeuvre, and it's very rare for other artists. The name for a group portrait containing other activities and elements was a conversation piece. However, these often showed more figures, seen in an interior or engaging in some activity, instead of a landscape without people. This painting is considered Gainsborough's most famous, alongside The Blue Boy.