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Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton

Thomas Gainsborough(1764) {/(1765)}

National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, Australia

Gainsborough’s portrait of Elizabeth Wrottesley, aged around nineteen, reflects the French influences of his training under Francis Hayman and the Huguenot engraver, Hubert-François Bourguignon, more commonly known as Gravelot.

In the 1760s Gainsborough established a successful practice in the fashionable spa town of Bath. In failing health, Gainsborough began limiting his commissions, but on meeting the sitter’s uncle the Duke of Bedford he stated ‘I cannot resist the honour of doing something for the Duke of Bedford productive of further advantages’. Gainsborough painted so many portraits of the Wrottesley-Bedford family at this time it is assumed they were visiting Bath on holiday. Included among his sitters were Elizabeth and her sister. A famed beauty, ‘Betty’ Wrottesley married the Prime Minister of England, the Duke of Grafton, in 1769. A related picture showing Elizabeth in a slightly different pose is in the collection of the Duke of Bedford in Woburn Abbey.

Text by Laurie Benson

© National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

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  • Title: Elizabeth Wrottesley, later Duchess of Grafton
  • Creator: Thomas Gainsborough
  • Date Created: (1764) {/(1765)}
  • Physical Dimensions: w635 x h761 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1933, © National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on canvas on wood panel
  • Provenance: Probably painted for the sitter's father, the Rev. Richard Wrottesley, Bart.; passed to the sitter's daughter, Lady Elizabeth Fitzroy; to Lady Elizabeth Fitzroy's sister Frances and the 1st Baron Churchill (1837); by descent to their son Francis George, 2nd Baron Churchill; included in Christie's sale, London, 12 May 1888, no. 23; from where purchased by Sir William Agnew (d. 1910) and Mrs Agnew (d. 1892), 1888; their collection, London, until 1910; by descent to Sir George Agnew, Bart., Rougham Hall, Bury St Edmunds, from 1910, until 1922; by whom sold to Count John McCormack, 1922; his collection, until 1931; included in the McCormack sale, 1931; from where re-purchased by Agnew's in 1933; from whom acquired, on the advice of Randall Davies, for the Felton Bequest in 1933.

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