A portrait of William Petty, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne oil on canvas 30 x 25in (76.2 x 63.5cm)
LITERATURE: E. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, p. 77, no. 428
PROVENANCE: Sale, Sotheby's, London, 23 May, 1962, lot 167 (purchased by H. Buckley); with Knoedler & Co., London, 1966; with Old Hall Gallery Ltd., Iden -Rye, Sussex, England; Sale, Christie's, London, 23 November, 1973, lot 38 (purchased by Oscar and Peter Johnson, Ltd., London, after the sale).
William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, also called 2nd Earl of Shelburne (born May 13, 1737, Dublin; died May 7, 1805, London) was a British statesman and Prime Minister (July 1782 to April 1783) during the reign of George III.
Gainsborough painted two versions of this portrait in or around 1787, the first having been executed for King Louis XVI of France. That painting disappeared from public records upon its arrival in France, possibly due to the French Revolution that engulfed the country in 1789 and climaxed with the beheading of the king. Many of the king's possessions were destroyed or confiscated in the turmoil.
The present and second version of the portrait has been known for many years from a stipple engraving executed by Bartolozzi in 1787. The painting itself has appeared at auction for the first time in 1962.
We are grateful to Hugh Belsey for confirming the attribution to Thomas Gainsborough based on first-hand inspection and for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.