"In 1748, after training in London, Gainsborough returned to his native Suffolk and set up as a portrait painter. This is an early 'conversation piece': an informal group portrait that was popular at the time. The unidentified couple appear to be members of the land-owning gentry and are possibly portrayed in their Suffolk estate. The decaying tree was likely to have been inspired by 17th-century Dutch landscapes, especially those by Jacob van Ruisdael, whom Gainsborough greatly admired.
An x-ray reveals that Gainsborough re-used this canvas; underneath is a half-length portrait of a woman wearing a rose corsage."