RARE. According to our records, only one autograph item by Gainsborough has been sold at auction since the early 1990s. Clients commonly paid Gainsborough a down-payment to secure the commission and the balance on completion of the work, as was evidently the case here. General Sir John Sebright, 6th Bt (1725-1794), of Beechwood Park in Hertfordshire, was an MP and friend of Edmund Burke. Gainsborough's portrait of him was sold at Sotheby's, New York, on 17 January 1992.