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English, 1723 - 1792
Mrs. Elisha Mathew
Oil on canvas

93 1/2 x 57 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund


One of Sir Joshua Reynolds' gifts as a painter was his ability to combine truth with fiction, and his paintings of women—especially young women—were intended to be explicitly flattering.

Reynolds is perhaps the most important figure in the history of English painting. He was a painter and writer, the first president of the Royal Academy of the Arts, and the leading portraitist of his day. In this superlative example of his work, he endows Mrs. Mathew with unusual poise and a glamour that is enhanced by the beautifully painted folds and drapes of her grey dress.