The Reverend William Stevens, c. 1780
oil on canvas
125.7 x 100.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3566)
The characteristic flamboyance of Gainsborough's brush is necessarily restrained due to the sober attire of the sitter, yet one senses the artist's sympathy for him in this gentle portrayal of a kindly countenance. Both men came from the east coast of England, were of the same age, and may have known one another socially. Stevens (1732-1800) was chaplain to the Duke of Cumberland, younger brother of George III, and he preached at St. George's, Hanover Square, the parish where Mrs. Gainsborough was registered at the time of her marriage to the artist.
Frame: running moulding with carved ornament, gilded. Britain, second half 18th century