Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727-1788
Title: Portrait of Mrs Christopher Horton (1743-1808), later Duchess of Cumberland
Date: 1766
Medium: Oil on canvas
75 x 62 cm
Signed: lower left: 1766
Credit Line: Bequeathed, Sir Hugh Lane, 1918
Object Number: NGI.795
DescriptionThe elder daughter of Simon Luttrell of Luttrellstown, County Dublin, Anne Luttrell married Mr Horton of Catton Hall, Derbyshire, in 1765. Her portrait was painted a year later. The artist creates a radiant image, lending the sitter’s turned head an air of nobility and placing the figure in a painted oval frame. There is ample testimony to her seductive charm in the delicate brushwork and the series of graceful curves on her face. The near diaphanous treatment of her veil and dress, with streaks of colour, adds a shimmering quality. The sitter was memorably described in a letter by Horace Walpole as ‘extremely pretty, very well made, with the most amorous eyes in the world, and eyelashes a yard long’. In 1771 she caused a royal storm with her marriage to Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, George III’s brother. He only informed his family of the union when the couple were en route to Calais, and this led to the royal Marriage act, which prevented royal marriages not approved by the sovereign. Both Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Wright of Derby also painted the countess; they reportedly found her a difficult sitter but Gainsborough has left us a series of glamorous portraits.

March 2016
ProvenanceDescended in the family of the first husband of the sitter, Christopher Horton, to Lady Wilmot Horton, Catton Hall; purchased by Agnew, 1912; bequeathed, Sir Hugh Lane, 1918
Exhibition HistoryNational Portrait Exhibition, London, 1867

Exhibition of pictures by Old Masters bequeathed and given to the National Gallery of Ireland by the late Sir Hugh Lane, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1918

Thomas Gainsborough: Bicentenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1927

Exhibition of British Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1934

Manchester, 1934

18th Century, Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1954-1955

Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, October - December 1964

Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Gallery, London, 8 October 1980 - 4 January 1981

Thomas Gainsborough, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, 7 June - 30 August 1998
Label TextIn this sumptuous portrait, Gainsborough displays his skill in capturing the transparent qualities of fashionable dress through delicate brushwork. Born Anne Luttrell at Luttrellstown Castle, Co. Dublin, the sitter was a young widow when Gainsborough painted her likeness. Horace Walpole memorably described her as having ‘the most amorous eyes in the world and eyelashes a yard long. Coquette beyond measure and artful as Cleopatra and complete mistress of all her passions and projects’. In 1771 she caused a storm by marrying Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, the king’s younger brother.
Inscriptionlower left: Anne Horton. 1766