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Portrait of Anne, Countess of Chesterfield
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Gift of J. Paul Getty
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Thomas Gainsborough
English, 1777 - 1778
Oil on canvas
86 1/2 x 61 1/2 in.
71.PA.8

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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.