The sitter was the daughter of George Silvertop (1705-89) of Minsteracres, Northumberland, and his first wife, Bridget, daughter of Henry Whittingham. In 1762 she married John Wright (1740-1792) of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, with whom she had two sons. This hitherto unrecorded portrait, which was probably painted to mark her marriage, shows the sitter in Van Dyck dress. The flying drapery, a distinctive feature of the Flemish artist’s portraiture, was rarely employed by Gainsborough but can be compared with his portraits of Mrs Chetwynd and Mrs Craddock (both Private collection), both of which date to the artist’s early years in Bath. Interestingly, the sitter’s choker of glass bugle beads, secured with a white ribbon, appears to have replaced a falling lace ruff that was tied with a bow at the nape of her neck.
We are grateful to Hugh Belsey for his assistance with this catalogue entry.