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Record Image
Gainsborough, Thomas (English, b.1727, d.1788), Co-artist
Hoppner, John (English, b.1758, d.1810), Co-artist
Charlotte, Countess Talbot
Circa 1784
oil on canvas
2380 x 1455 mm sight size; 2720 x 1810 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1958 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society through the Peter Smeaton Fund.
At his most popular with fashionable society from about 1760 until his death in 1788, Thomas Gainsborough, along with Sir Joshua Reynolds, was the most successful portrait painter of his day. His style is an English manifestation of the Rococo, the elaborate, sweet, erotic manner developed on the Continent, and especially in France, up to the French Revolution of 1789. But in Gainsborough’s hands it has a charming individuality most apparent in his pictures of children and pretty young women.
Like many other contemporary portrait painters, Gainsborough sometimes employed assistants, but in this instance he and Hoppner un-dertook the painting in this life-size study of the Countess Talbot. It appears that Gainsborough painted her face and upper torso, while the background landscape seems to be more in the style of Hoppner. Assistants probably worked on other aspects of the painting. Although the idea of two prominent artists collaborating on one painting may seem a little curious, Hoppner had entered the Royal Academy schools in the same year as Gainsborough’s nephew and apprentice, Gainsborough Dupont, and through him possibly met the older artist. The two men shared a love of landscape and Hoppner owned a number of Gainsborough’s landscape drawings.
The fashionable subject of the painting was Lady Charlotte Hill, the Countess Talbot, who was born in 1754 and married in 1776 to the Viscount and Earl Talbot. As portrayed here, about 1784, she is a vivacious and intelligent beauty.

on view in the exhibition

Hurahia ana kā Whetū : Unveiling the Stars
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