Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire 1783

14 January 2010

A beautiful portrait of the Duchess by Thomas Gainsborough, painted in 1783.

This sumptuous work was commissioned by Georgiana’s mother, Countess Spencer and hung at the family seat, Althorp in Northamptonshire until it was sold in 1924, which must surely have been a sad day for the family.

I think this work really shows off Georgiana’s famous winsome charm. She was clearly very pretty but I think most of her attractiveness was based more on expression, personality and charisma than actual beauty.

I love looking closely at Gainsborough paintings. He worked in oils on canvas but handled them very lightly, giving an ethereal effect that is similar to watercolours or even pastels. It’s really distinctive and a big contrast to the heavier works of his nearest rival, Sir Joshua Reynolds. I know which one I would rather have had painting my likeness!

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