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On long term loan
The elegant woman here is Lady Mary Bate-Dudley. She was married to Gainsborough’s friend and champion, Henry Bate-Dudley. She’s shown here in a romantic woodland setting, leaning on a classical pedestal and an urn. Her pose is languid yet statuesque and the gesture of her left hand suggests a refined sensibility. Unusually in Gainsborough’s art, Lady Bate-Dudley’s head is shown in profile. This is a dramatic ploy that elevates the painting beyond the everyday world of conventional portraiture to the realm of High Art.