L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i
Friday, December 5, 2014
The Artist's Daughter Mary, by Thomas Gainsborough, 1777
Mary "Molly" Gainsborough (circa 31 January 1750, Sudbury - 2 July 1826, London), eldest surviving daughter of the English
portrait painter. Gainsborough was very fond of his two daughters and painted them frequently, as children and into adulthood. They were handsomely educated - including art instruction by their father, himself - and would be well provided for in his will. She showed signs of mental illness from a young age; she suffered delusions, and today would probably be diagnosed as schizophrenic. She nonetheless married a friend of her father - though against her father's wishes - the celebrated German oboe virtuoso and composer Johann Christian Fischer three years after the completion of this portrait; the marriage was disastrous and was annulled six months later. After the deaths of her parents, she lived with her younger sister Margaret, who had been the executor of both
parents' wills and who administered Mary's inheritance. After her sister's death in 1820, Mary spent the last six years of her life in an asylum, possibly Blacklands House Lunatic Asylum.
Stephen O'Donnell, painter and singer/performer. A mid-career fine artist, I have been showing professionally since 1995. Married to author and graphic designer Gigi Little, with whom I occasionally perform a mother and daughter singing act, Madeleine and Penny Prévert.