Samuel (1760-1778) shared the musical talents of his brothers and sisters, performing on the stage from the age of six. However, he abandoned the family career, preferring to join the Navy in 1778. He caught a fever during his first voyage and died in London, nursed - so legend has it - by Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, then merely a servant in the Linley household.
Gainsborough’s portrait shows Samuel in his mid-shipman’s uniform, so it must date from just before he actually set sail in 1778. Painted in the sketchiest of manners, even for Gainsborough, it took less than an hour to execute.