Charles Marsham, 1st Earl of Romney, commissioned a life-size group portrait of his children, Amelia Charlotte, Frances, Harriot and Charles from the much sought-after Gainsborough in July 1787. The children are surrounded by an impressive late summer landscape created entirely from colour. For all the picture's ostentatious informality, the children relate to each other only formally as they collect hazelnuts. Their eyes meet only with difficulty, so that the composition is lacking in convincing inner rapport. lt is clear that Gainsborough added the faces after separate portrait sittings. The apparently spontaneous manner of painting is the product of carefully considered studio planning. This means that the usual distance involved in official portraits in removed in Gainsborough's magnificent late work, but the sense of dignity remains.


  • Title: The Marsham Children
  • Creator: Thomas Gainsborough
  • Date Created: 1787
  • Physical Dimensions: w181.9 x h242.9 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Style: English
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Rainer Michaelis // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Sir Thomas Gainsborough was an English painter, famous for his portraits and landscapes. He rejected applying formal rules on painting but drew on the basis of his observations of (human) nature. The figures in his portraits resonate with their own unique individuality, as in 'Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews' (1748), 'The Blue Boy' (1770) or 'Mr. and Mrs. William Hallet' (1785). Not wanting his subjects to look affected, he preferred to paint them in landscape settings. He was also a proponent of the concept of sensibility which aimed to counteract academicism. His portrayals reflect his enthusiasm and eye for clothes and fashion. He was a founding member of Joshua Reynolds' Royal Academy of Arts in London.
  • Artist Place of Death: London, United Kingdom
  • Artist Place of Birth: Sudbury, Suffolk, United Kingdom
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1727/1788-08-02

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