Portrait of Anne, Countess of Chesterfield

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of Anne, Countess of Chesterfield

Artist/Maker(s):

Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727 - 1788)

Culture:

English

Date:

1777 - 1778

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

221 x 156.2 cm (87 x 61 1/2 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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Anne Thistlewaite, the Countess of Chesterfield, appears lost in thought as she sits with her left arm resting on a plinth. Dense foliage furnishes a backdrop for her figure, while the right half of the painting provides a distant, unobstructed view of her lands. A pale beige shawl trimmed with gold fringe wraps loosely around her back and shoulders, and dainty white slippers emerge from underneath her elaborate blue satin gown. Her fashionable upswept hair and low-cut gown reveal the graceful curve of her neck and breast.

Among Thomas Gainsborough's many portraits of English aristocrats, this large painting stands out as a remarkably loose and freely painted example. He conveyed a sense of immediacy in the large sweeping brushstrokes used to describe material, foliage, and background sky. Short, curved brushstrokes form the tree trunk, while longer strokes of blue and white paint create an illusion of shimmering, rustling fabric. Small dabs of white and gold paint applied to the shawl lend it a rich, glimmering effect.

Provenance
by 1778 - 1815

Philip Stanhope, fifth earl of Chesterfield, 1755 - 1815 (Bretby Hall, Derbyshire, England), commissioned from artist by husband of sitter; by inheritance to George Stanhope, 1815.

1815 - 1866

George Stanhope, sixth earl of Chesterfield, 1805 - 1866 (Bretby Hall, Derbyshire, England), by inheritance to his son, George Arthur Philip Stanhope, 1866.

1866 - 1871

George Philip Cecil Arthur Stanhope, seventh earl of Chesterfield, 1831 - 1871 (Bretby Hall, Derbyshire, England), by inheritance to his sister, Evelyn Stanhope Herbert, 1871.

1871 - 1875

Evelyn Stanhope Herbert, countess Carnarvon, 1834 - 1875 (Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to her husband, Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 1875.

1875 - 1890

Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, fourth earl of Carnarvon, 1831 - 1890 (Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to his son, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 1890.

1890 - 1923

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, fifth earl of Carnarvon, 1866 - 1923 (Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert, 1923.

1923 - 1925

Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Francis Herbert, sixth earl of Carnarvon, 1898 - 1987 (Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England) [sold, Carnarvon sale, Christie's, London, May 22, 1925, lot 108, to Sir John Leigh.]

1925 - 1959

Sir John Leigh, first bart., died 1959 (Witley Park, Surrey, England) [sold, Leigh sale, Sotheby's, London, November 18, 1959, lot 38, to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd.]

1959

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England), sold to J. Paul Getty, 1959.

1959 - 1971

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

Exhibitions
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School [...] (1887) (Cat. 146)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1887
Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph (1891) (Cat. 99)
  • New Gallery, (London), 1891
Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman (September 18, 2010 to May 1, 2011) (Cat. 5)
  • Cincinnati Art Museum, (Cincinnati), September 18, 2010 to January 2, 2011
  • San Diego Museum of Art, (San Diego), January 29 to May 1, 2011
Bibliography

Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1965), pp. 31, 129, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 47, ill.