'Anne Duchess of Cumberland', c. 1780

Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788)

Oil on canvas, 76.5 x 63.5cm
Accession Number LL3140

Thomas Gainsborough 'Anne Duchess of Cumberland'

Leverhulme bought this fine example of Gainsborough’s later manner as a portrait of Princess Augusta, daughter of George III. She, however, was only a girl when most of Gainsborough’s portraits of the Royal Family were undertaken. Here, though, the sitter’s features strongly resemble those of Anne Duchess of Cumberland, a previously-married commoner who controversially became the wife of the King’s brother in 1771.

Horace Walpole (1717 – 1797), the writer and historian, described her ‘with lashes a yard long, a coquette beyond measure and as artful as Cleopatra’. Gainsborough painted her, always sympathetically, on several occasions. This work combines brilliance with intimacy and tenderness.