Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788)
The Hon. Frances Duncombe, ca. 1777
Oil on canvas
92 1/4 x 61 1/8 in. (234.3 x 155.3 cm)
Henry Clay Frick Bequest
Accession number: 1911.1.61
Henry Clay Frick acquired the Hon.Frances Duncombe in 1911. The painting expresses aristocratic charm for which Henry Frick was always attracted, and later continued to collect similar paintings of other artists, such as Anthony van Dyck. In fact, the painter of Frances Duncombe, Thomas Gainsborough was eager to learn the techniques of Van Dyck’s dress picturing, and copied that style to his own paintings.
The object on the painting, Frances Duncombe, is a wealthy noblewoman. She was orphan and lived with her stepmother, who married the first Earl of Radnor, at Longford Castle. The Earl’s family was aristocratic ambitious and collected seventeenth-century portraits, including Van Dyck’s paintings of women in fancy dresses. Inspired by previous artist’s works, Thomas Gainsborough painted Frances Duncombe, as well as the other family members, in full length, by copying Van Dyck’s baroque dress style, with slashed sleeves and gathered skirt.
The provenance history of the painting
Bowater, John, Hon. Mrs. (Frances Duncombe). Old Dalby Hall, Leicester, England, UK (d.1827)
Sawyer, W.G., Rev.. Old Dalby Hall, Leicestershire, England, UK
1871 Anonymous sale
1871 Graves, Henry. London, England, UK
1871-1871 Chesterfield, George Arthur Philip Stanhope, 7th Earl. Bretby Hall, Derbyshire, England, UK (from Graves; died before transaction was completed in 1871)
1871-1872 Graves, Henry. London, England, UK.
1872-1873 Rothschild, Lionel de. Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, England, UK (from Graves; d.1898)
Rothschild, Ferdinand de. Gunnersbury Park, Middlesex, England, UK (from Graves; d.1879)
[both Ferdinand and Lionel were Barons, and Ferdinand married Lionel’s daughter Evelina.]
By 1907-1908 Wertheimer, Charles J.. London, England, UK.
1911 Duveen Brothers, Inc.. London, England, UK; New York, NY, USA
1911-1919 Frick, Henry Clay. New York, NY, USA (from Duveen)
1919 New York, NY, USA. Frick Collection (bequest of Frick)
The exhibition history of the painting
London, Royal Academy, Old Masters, 1873, No. 120, as portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress, lent by Lionel de Rothschild
London, Agnew, 1902, No.12, as Hon. Frances Duncombe.
London, Royal Academy, Old Masters, 1907, No.87, as The Hon. Anne Duncombe, afterwards Countess of Radnor, lent by C.J. Wertheimer.
Berlin, kgl. Akademie der Kunste, 1908, No. 23, as The Hon. Anne Duncombe, lent by C.J. Wertheimer.
New York, Duveen, old Masters of the British School, 1914 No.1, as The Hon. Anne Duncombe.
New York, Knoedler, Gainsborough and Turner, 1914, No. 7 as Lady Anne Duncombe.
The publication history of the painting
A.C. Ritchie. English Painters. Baltimore, 1942
Duveen Pictures in Public Collections of America. New York, 1941, No.275
Eighteenth-Century Portraiture and Seventeenth-Century Past: Gainsborough and Van Dyck. Art History Vol.5, No.3, 1982
C.H. Collins Baker. British Painting. London, 1933
Collin B. Bailey Four Splendid Whole Length. Frick Collection Members’ Magazine, Vol.10,No.1, 2010
Edward Fowles. Memories of Duveen Brothers. Jean Fowles and Colin Simpson, 1976
Ellis Waterhouse. Gainsborough. Edward Hulton, 1958
J. Grieg, Thomas Gainsborough, London, 1909
John Hayes. Gainsborough Paintings and Drawings. Phaidon Press Limited, 1975
Oliver Millar. Van Dyck in England. National Portrait Gallery, London, 1982
Sir W. Armstrong. Gainsborough and His Place in English Art. London, 1898
W. Roberts. The Whole Length English Portraits in The Frick Collection. Art in America,Vol.2, 1914
Bernice Davidson. The Frick Collection An Illustrated Catalogue Drawings, Prints, and Later Acquisitions. Volume IX
Martha Frick. Henry Clay Frick An Intimate Portrait
The Getty Provenance Databases 4/27/2017