Gainsborough’s portrait of Graves was begun in 1785 and finished in 1786 when it was exhibited at Schomberg House in Pall Mall where the artist had been living and working upon leaving Bath in 1774. Following disagreements with the Royal Academy over the hanging of his pictures, Gainsborough began to have annual exhibitions of his work in his studio at Schomberg House. Like The Blue Page, also by Gainsborough (see lot 64), this portrait was in the famous collection of Sir Joseph Robinson and included in the sale of his property in 1923 in London. At the last minute he had regrets about his decision to sell and proceeded to buy back most of the items in the auction, including this portrait. It was inherited by his daughter Ida, Princess Labia, and passed to her son before it was sold again at auction in 1988.
This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Thomas Gainsborough by Hugh Belsey.
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