(British, c. 1750–1805)
Pastel with black and red chalk and graphite
Support: White laid paper
Sheet: 50.7 x 40.2 cm (19 15/16 x 15 13/16 in.)
Severance and Greta Millikin Trust 2011.193
This pastel was presumably commissioned from Daniel Gardner by the children's father, who was himself the subject of a portrait by the artist.
Daniel Gardner built a lucrative career that was based on fashionable portraiture, especially small-scale works in pastel, often in oval formats with landscape backgrounds. Executed in this format, this portrait is one of many by the artist that depicted children, his primary subjects. Here, the young Cropley Ashley-Cooper, later the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury, gazes fondly at his older sister, Mary Anne, who holds his hand and encircles his shoulders in close affection. Gardner took advantage of the special optical properties of pastel, whose minute, irregular particles reflect light diffusely, allowing an unparalleled velvety brilliance.
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