Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792)
- Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child
- 1763 - 1764
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 132.5 x 101.6 cm
Frame size: 148 x 122 cm
- West Room
- In 1762, Susanna Cecilia Dingley (1743-1795) married Richard Hoare (d.1777) of Boreham House, near Chelmsford, Essex, a partner of Hoare’s bank and the grandson of its founder. This was Reynolds’s second portrait of Mrs Hoare (he also painted her in the year of her marriage). She is shown holding her eldest daughter, Susanna Cecilia, whose birth the painting was presumably intended to celebrate.
Reynolds’s aptitude for painting children was recognised by his contemporaries. This tender scene was undoubtedly inspired by High Renaissance and Baroque paintings of the Virgin and Child, which were well represented in Reynolds’s own collection. The costume, on the other hand, is contemporary. The ‘oriental’ style of the dress and shoes was the height of fashion in the 1760s and appears in several of Reynolds’s portraits from this period.However, the overall effect is natural and timeless: the sitter’s hair is simply arranged and, apart from a plain wedding ring, she wears no jewellery.
Reynolds also produced a sketch of this portrait, now in the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is thought that the artist worked on both versions simultaneously, using the sketch to test out compositional changes and ideas. Indeed, an X-ray of the present picture has revealed small adjustments to the positioning of the figures, and is thus suggestive of some compositional difficulties, which the second version would have helped to resolve.
The painting was acquired by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1861.