- Museum number
Study of a music party; four musicians facing right, from left to right, a female singer, a male violinist, a female at the keyboard, and a male singer, with a dog lying under the harpsichord, in an interior. c.1765-1770
Red chalk and stump
- Production date
- 1765-1770 (circa)
Height: 241 millimetres
Width: 324 millimetres (all four corners cut)
- Curator's comments
- This drawing has been discussed in all of the exhibition catalogues listed above. It was also mentioned in Jeffrey Hopes, 'Sketching from Life: Philip Thicknesse's "A Sketch from the Life and Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough" (1788), in P. Wagner, F. Ogée, R. Mankin and A. Hescher, eds, 'The Ruin and the Sketch in the Eighteenth Century', Trier, 2008, pp. 109-10.
The following text is from T. Clifford, A. Griffiths & M. Royalton Kisch, 'Gainsborough and Reynolds in the British Museum', 1978, no. 37:
The use of red chalk is unusual for Gainsborough although it was often employed by his competitor in Bath, the portraitist William Hoare (1706-92). The darting line with rapid hatching is characteristic of Gainsborough at his most fluent and is very similar to his handling of oil paint when laying in portraits: compare 4th Earl of Abingdon (Waterhouse 5) and 1st Earl Cathcart (Waterhouse 124).
Various attempts have been made to identify the members of the party. Hayes tentatively suggested that the scene was the Linley house in Bath, in which case the characters could be Mrs Linley at the harpsichord and Elizabeth and Thomas Linley, senior, singing. This hypothesis was further elaborated in the Kenwood catalogue, where the violinist was cautiously identified with Thomas Linley, junior (b. 1756), an infant prodigy on the violin, who was already leading the Bath orchestra at the age of eleven.
This theory drew much of its plausibility from the misreading of the donor's signature on the verso as Linley. In fact it is of Richard Lane, who was Gainsborough's great nephew, and inherited eight portraits of Gainsborough, his wife and family (Waterhouse 274, 275, 279, 290, 291, 293, 297 and 299). He also seems to have owned a group of drawings identifiable by their trimmed corners (see 1895,0725.3; 1895,0725.2 and 1894,0612.11). This makes it more likely that the identification on the verso follows a family tradition and is substantially correct. It does, however, require emendation: as Binyon pointed out, the violinist cannot be Abel because his instrument was the viol da gamba. Binyon thought he might rather be Felice de' Giardini (for whom see Kenwood 1977, No. 3). The costume and hair style suggest a date for the drawing in the middle or later 1760s.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.297
1978-79, Oct-14 Jan., BM P&D, Gainsborough and Reynolds in BM, no.37
1980/1 Oct-Jan, London, Tate Gallery, Gainsborough, no. 26
1981 Feb-Apr, Paris, Grand Palais, Gainsborough, no. 26
1983 Oct-Dec, Washington, NG of Art, Gainsborough, no. 45
1983/4 Dec-Feb, USA, Fort Worth, Kimbell Museum, Gainsborough, no. 45
1984 Feb-Apr, USA, New haven, YCBA, Gainsborough, no. 45
1988 Sep-Dec, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gainsborough, no. 14:5
1998 June-Aug, Ferrara, Paldei Diamanti, Gainsborough
2003 Feb-May, Washington, NG of Art, Thomas Gainsborough
2003 June-Sept, Boston, MFA, Thomas Gainsborough
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Clifford et al., 1978
Among the drawings left by the artist to his wife, which descended through Margaret Gainsborough either to Henry Briggs or, through Sophia Lane, to Richard Lane (1800-72); given by Richard Lane to William Mulready.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number