About this artwork

This is one of Gainsborough's finest full-length portraits. The costume and accessories evoke the era of King Charles I and the opulent court portraits of Sir Anthony van Dyck. The sitter was born the Honourable Mary Cathcart (1757-92), daughter of 9th Lord Cathcart, who was Ambassador to Catherine the Great. She married the Perthshire landowner Thomas Graham in 1774, and they bought Lynedoch House near Methven, Perthshire in 1787. The portrait was highly acclaimed when exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1777. Thomas Graham, devastated by his wife's premature death in 1792, placed the painting in storage as he could not bear to contemplate it. It was bequeathed to the National Galleries of Scotland by a relative of Graham on condition that it never leaves the Scottish National Gallery building.

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Updated February 2022

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Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough