Viscountess Folkestone

WAG 229


The sitter for this portrait is Elizabeth Marsham (1711 - 1782), second wife of the First Viscount Folkestone and daughter of the Earl of Romney. In George Holt’s day a work by Gainsborough held the world record for the price of a painting; and Holt himself paid more for this picture, £3150, than for any other work in his collection. He was able to enjoy it for only a few weeks before he died. It is one of Gainsborough’s masterpieces, a sensitive study of old age that also displays his dazzling painting technique at its finest. During the recent conservation of this portrait conservators analysed the painting, identifying pigments and paint medium and revealing a radical change to the composition.