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.


  • Title: Samuel Linley
  • Date: 1778
  • Physical Dimensions: w635 x h758 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: British
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Bath, Linley family; bequethed to DPG by William Linley, 1835.
  • Further Information: "Samuel Linley (1760-78) was the second son of Thomas Linley the elder (see Gainsborough DPGl4O) and sang in his father's concerts in 1774-5, and played the oboe. In 1778 he became a midshipman on HMS Thunderer, aboard which he contracted the fever from which he died. In DPG3O2, Samuel Linley seems to be represented in midshipman's uniform, thus the portrait probably dates from 1778. According to family tradition, it was painted in 48 minutes."
  • Artist: Gainsborough, Thomas
  • Acquisition Method: Linley, William (Bequest, 1835)

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