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The liberal and philanthropic John Eld was actively involved in the foundation and administration of the Staffordshire General Infirmary. Commissioned by the infirmary's trustees, this portrait hung there for one hundred and forty years. Gainsborough portrays Eld in a powdered wig and elegant costume, holding a print of the hospital's facade. Eighteenth-century English painting is well known for such handsome and imposing portraits, with the subject often placed before a landscape background.

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