Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan Thomas Gainsborough Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan, an oil on canvas painting, was executed between 1785 and 1787 by Thomas Gainsborough. In 1786, the portrait was displayed at Thomas' studio located in Schomberg House, Pall Mall. In 1937, the portrait was acquired by the Washington, D.C- based National Gallery of Art.

The drawing of full-figure pictures in nature was a practice of the eighteenth-century English artists, especially Thomas who loved painting landscapes. The composition of this portrait is diagonal, and it's in the grand manner style. The windblown landscape and the sitter's garb reflect the powerful romantic component in Thomas' artistic temperament. The woman's mouth and chin are definite, firm and sculptural; her drawn eyebrows gives a calm, steady and dignified expression. Looking at her eyes, there is a slightly indirect gaze, which shows a sign of romantic melancholy.

The painting was executed in liquid paint, which was blended into wet and then applied in many layers to create a sumptuous, rich effect. For the details, the artist used thin washes with free-flowing brush strokes. Thomas used a thin oil colour and long brush strokes to give a glittering transparent effect to the woman's hand-held scarf. The painting captures the fresh beauty and charming personality of the model. The only part of this painting that's solid and calm is her face. The artist applied the paint with nervous and soft, flying brush strokes. He treated the surface of the gown the woman is wearing with long zigzag brushes all the way to her feet to obtain the vibrant effect in contrast to her calm face.

Although Thomas used an outside setting, this isn't a conversation piece. The painting has psychological depth, which was brought about with the concentration that was given to the two details of texture and dress as testaments to worldly wealth and elegance. The hair of the model in the painting is treated just like the branches and leaves of the trees seen in the background. Some of the pink glazes of the sunset are displayed in the colour of the woman's dress. The lonely trees behind the woman match her isolated figure, adding to the idea of the remoteness of an abandoned feminine figure in a deserted landscape, who is most likely longing for something she can't achieve in her life.