Frances Browne (1746–1811), Mrs John Douglas (1783-1784). Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727-1788). Oil on canvas. National Trust, Waddesdon Manor.
The pose recalls the traditional representation of Melancholy, and helps to articulate the emotions of the sitter who has withdrawn to a secluded and overgrown corner of a garden to read a letter. Perhaps it is from her husband or from an absent friend. The artist manipulated his pigments to suggest Mrs. Douglas’s naturalness and ease in her pastoral solitude.