The easy representation of ourselves and our loved ones is something we take for granted. Historically, few artists had the time or the inclination to make portraits of their relations. Gainsborough was the exception. Despite his famous antipathy towards portraiture, he painted and drew over fifty portraits of his extended family. This book brings together some of his best loved works, as well as many that are little known and rarely exhibited, offering new insight into his life, motivations and work.
In the first of three introductory essays, David H. Solkin writes on Gainsborough himself, placing his family portraits in the context of earlier practice - including that of the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens and British portraitists from Mary Beale to Joseph Highmore . Ann Bermingham explores Gainsborough's portraits of his daughters, with particular reference to two finished double portraits painted seven years apart and the tragic story arising from them. Susan Sloman discusses Margaret's role as her husband's business manager, its effect on the family dynamic and hence the visual representation of its members.