(British, c. 1750-1805)
Pastel with black and red chalk and graphite
Sheet: 50.7 x 40.2 cm (19 15/16 x 15 13/16 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Trust 2011.193
Gardner was last in the line of 18th-century British artists—beginning with Francis Cotes and reaching its zenith with Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and George Romney-whose lucrative careers were based on fashionable portraiture. Initially trained by Romney, Gardner established a successful portrait practice that was based on small-scale works in pastel, often in oval formats with landscape backgrounds, as in this drawing. Gardner was particularly adept at capturing the charm of youth, taking advantage of the special optical properties of pastel, whose minute, irregular particles reflect light diffusely, allowing an unparalleled velvety brilliance.
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