1785. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Read Note.
The Linley Sisters, daughters of Thomas Linley, a composer who organized concerts in the Assembly Rooms at Bath. Elizabeth (1754-92), standing on Gainsborough’s painting, was already renowned as a leading soprano - her voice was compared to that of a nightingale. Her admirers dubbed her the ‘saint’ because of her voice and beauty. Mary (1758-87) had just begun her career as a singer.
In 1772, Elizabeth eloped with Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) famous playwright, to France where they were married in a small village outside the town of Calais.
There are several portraits of Elizabeth.
Portrait of a Lady in Pink by Reynolds said to be Mrs. Elizabeth Sheridan. Reynolds also painted a picture of Saint Cecilia at her harp dated 1775 in which he was supposed to have used Mrs. Sheridan as the model.
Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, by Gainsborough, painted in 1785. By the time of this portrait Elizabeth was a political wife, as Sheridan had entered parliament in 1780. Sheridan was spectacularly unfaithful to his wife, having affairs with several society beauties. Elizabeth would die from tuberculosis seven years later.
See: Thomas Gainsborough. The Linley Sisters. Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, nee Elizabeth Linley.
Sir Joshua Reynolds. St Cecillia. Lady in Pink, Said to be Mrs. Elizabeth Sheridan.