Queen Charlotte

Thomas Gainsborough (British, Sudbury 1727–1788 London)

Oil on canvas
23 3/4 x 17 1/2 in. (60.3 x 44.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This is a replica by Gainsborough of a portrait of the queen (Royal Collection) which he painted at Windsor Castle in September 1782.

  • Catalogue Entry

    The sitter was the daughter of Karl Ludwig Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1708–1752). She married George III (1738–1820) of England in 1761 and the couple had fifteen children.

    In September and October 1782, at the queen's command, Gainsborough painted oval bust-length portraits of the king and queen and thirteen of their children (all Royal Collection, Windsor Castle). The exhibition of the series at the Royal Academy in 1783 led to Gainsborough's withdrawal from that institution when his instructions to hang the works in three rows of five, at eye level, were disregarded.

    The MMA picture is an autograph replica of the original portrait. The face is not quite as long and the sitter looks a little younger; the pigments appear thinner and less varied. The handling is delicate, and the state of preservation is very fine. It was a popular image, and there are many copies, both in large and in miniature (see Baetjer 2009, p. 108 n. 3).

    Eugene Bolton bought the MMA painting from the Waldeck family in 1926 and had it shipped to England. His brother Paul Bottenwieser acquired the companion portrait of George III two years later; it has since disappeared. The archivist for the princely house of Waldeck could not confirm that the two pictures had been gifts from a member of the English royal family, but the fact that they were in the Waldeck collection by 1806, more than a decade before Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818, makes this likely.

    [2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]

  • Provenance

    Princes of Waldeck and Pyrmont, Schloss Friedrichstein and later Schloss Arolsen (by 1806–1926; inv., 1806, p. 3, as Portrait der Königin von England, Ölgemälde von Tischbein . . . nach Arolsen gebracht; sold as by Gainsborough for 20,000 marks to Bolton); [Eugene (or Eugen) Bolton, London, 1926]; [Leopold Hirsch, London, 1926; sold for $17,023.13 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1926–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 57; 1943, no. 56)

  • Exhibition History

    Art Institute of Chicago. "A Century of Progress," June 1–November 1, 1933, no. 193 (lent by Mr. Jules S. Bache, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 56.

    Charlotte, N.C. Mint Museum of Art. "The Age of Queen Charlotte, 1744–1818," April 7–May 5, 1968, no. 6.

  • References

    Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), pp. 181, 184, ill. p. 197, as Queen Charlotte by Gainsborough.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill., as from the collections of the dukes of Waldeck-Pyrmont and Leopold Hirsch, and with the observation that a replica of this portrait is in the private audience chamber at Windsor.

    Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 4.

    August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), p. 542.

    C. J. Bulliet. Art Masterpieces in a Century of Progress Fine Arts Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1933, vol. 1, unpaginated, no. 13, ill.

    A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture Lent from American Collections. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1933, p. 30, no. 193.

    "Six Centuries of European Painting at Chicago." Connoisseur 91 (May 1933), pp. 346, 348, ill., as "slightly larger than the similar oval portrait at Windsor and the version at South Kensington".

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 57, ill.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 56, ill.

    Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 290.

    An American Correspondent. "English Portraits in the Jules Bache Collection." Connoisseur 113 (March 1944), pp. 52–53, ill., describes it as a replica of the portrait at Windsor and probably of the same period.

    E[llis]. K. Waterhouse. "Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough." Walpole Society 33 (1948–50), p. 19, as an "original repetition" of the Windsor portrait of September 1782.

    Ellis Waterhouse. Gainsborough. London, 1958, p. 59, no. 133.

    Oliver Millar. The Later Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. London, 1969, vol. 1, p. 37, as a "very good autograph repetition" of the Windsor portrait.

    John Hayes. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. August 7, 1990, affirms the attribution to Thomas Gainsborough.

    Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 106–8, no. 47, ill. (color).

  • See also