This portrait is the masterpiece of Gainsborough's early years. It was painted after his return home from London to Suffolk in 1748, soon after the marriage of Robert Andrews of the Auberies and Frances Carter of Ballingdon House, near Sudbury in November of that year.
The landscape evokes Robert Andrew's estate, to which his marriage added property. He has a gun under his arm, while his wife sits on an elaborate Rococo-style wooden bench. The painting of Mrs Andrews' lap is unfinished. The space may have been reserved for a child for Mrs Andrews to hold.
The painting follows the fashionable convention of the conversation piece, a (usually) small-scale portrait showing two or more people, often out of doors. The emphasis on the landscape here allows Gainsborough to display his skills as a painter of convincingly changing weather and naturalistic scenery, still a novelty at this time.
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Mr Andrews Detail from Mr and Mrs Andrews
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