HumanitiesWeb.org - "The Painter's Daughters" by Thomas Gainsborough [Selected Works]
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The Painter's Daughters

with a Cat

1758-60: The National Gallery, London

If Gainsborough's children are revealed as solemn, unsmiling youngsters, there is good reason. The daughters, whom the painter whimsically called Molly and the Captain, were troubled girls who grew to be unstable women. Margaret often behaved erratically, even as a youth. Mary married a musician friend of her father's , but they parted, and she later went insane. This painting was never intended to be sold, and Gainsborough never bothered to finish it. He lightly sketched a playful pet cat in Margaret's arms, and then apparently changed his mind about including the animal.
 
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