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Group portraits

by Gainsborough are relatively rare. This large example shows the London merchant James Baillie (1737-1793), with his wife Colin Campbell, and their four young children. Baillie's wife had been given the Christian name of her father Colin Campbell of Glenure. Although a formal portrait, Gainsborough conveys the sense of an affectionate family. Here Mrs Baillie is seated roughly in the centre of the composition

. Standing her youngest child on her knee, she appears to be the fulcrum of family life.

February 2010