Dec 17, 2007

Portrait of Mary Wise

Portrait of Mary Wise

c. 1774

Thomas Gainsborough

(British, 1727–1788)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 76.2 x 63.6 cm (30 x 25 1/16 in.)

The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Collection 1944.82

Did you know?

The portrait shows Mary in her twenties, with her hair powdered fashionably grey.


Mary’s modest and contemplative demeanor is a counterpoint to a rather elaborate ensemble consisting of a gown embroidered with gold flower sprigs, trimmed with lace and pearls, and tied with a gold sash, as well as a gold-striped veil and a bracelet with eight gold bands. Gainsborough’s compact oval format and the sitter’s informal pose lend this portrait an air of intimacy.

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