Portrait of Mrs. Clement Tudway

Companion to "Portrait of Clement Tudway," North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (G.60.11.1)

Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727 - 1788

Made in England, Europe


Oil on canvas

30 1/8 x 25 1/8 inches (76.5 x 63.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The George W. Elkins Collection, 1924

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  • PublicationBritish Painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    On June 7, 1762, Elizabeth Hill (1739-1828), younger daughter of Sir Rowland Hill, married Clement Tudway (1734-1815), Member of Parliament for Wells in the county of Somerset, bringing him a dowry of six thousand pounds.1 In his twenty-nine years in Parliament, from 1761 to 1790, Clement Tudway consistently voted independently, although during that time he was called to speak only once before the house, in 1773. In his own time, he was called "The Father of the House of Commons";2 a full political biography of him appears in The History of Parliament, The House of Commons, 1754-90.3 In addition to his political activities, he managed the family's extensive sugar plantations in Antigua, as well as their many properties in and around Wells.

    According to the Sherbourne, Dorchester and Taunton Journal of February 21, 1828, Mrs. Tudway died on February 13 of that year. She was buried on February 22 in St. Cuthbert's Wells. The few papers of hers that survive show her to have been a modest, gentle, and religious woman, who was devoted to her husband. In one letter to her nephew John Paine Tudway (1775-I835), dated May 11, 1821, she wrote that "at the time of my beloved Husband's decease I was so overwhelmed with grief and consequent illness, that I was unable to attend to any worldly matters. I never was anxious for great abundance, and my dear husband knew my retired disposition--not ambitious of entering into high style of life, much less so now.''4

    In her will she asked that her coffin be borne by six of her laborers and made bequests to her housekeeper, waiting woman, gardener, footman, housemaid, dairymaid, and coachman. She directed that her body be buried "without parade or unnecessary expense." Charities that benefited from her one-hundred-pound bequests were the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society. In 1821 she had endowed a charity in St. Cuthbert's Wells for poor lying-in women who were not obtaining relief from any other source.5

    Mrs. Tudway's portrait forms a pair with her husband's, which is today in the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (Thomas Gainsborough, Clement Tudway, 1773, oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 25 1/4” {77 x 64.1 cm.}, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art). In the mid-1760s Gainsborough had painted Clement's father, Charles (1713-1774), and mother, Hannah Tudway, in full-length portraits, today in the Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, and the Baltimore Museum of Art (each 89 x 60 1/2"). Until now, the exact date of Gainsborough's portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Clement Tudway has been given only as "late Bath period." In the Somerset Record Office, however, among Clement Tudway's bills is a receipt from Gainsborough for the two works: "Bath July 2d. 1773/Rev.d of Clem: Tudway Esq. the sum of / seventy Pounds sixteen Shillings, in full for / two 3/4 Portraits (Viz. Himself & Mrs. Tudway) / and two Frames Burnish'd Gold, / Case & ec.-- / Thos Gainsborough / £70: 16.”6

    In the Philadelphia picture, a feigned oval, Mrs. Tudway is about thirty-three years old; a plain woman, with a long nose and a sweet, shy smile, she is dressed in a blue dress with pearls at her breast, throat, and in her unpowdered hair.

    Richard Dorment, from British Painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Century (1986), pp. 119-120.

    1. Tudway MS., DD/SAS/SE3, Somerset Record Office, Taunton.
    2. The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 85 (1815), p. 184.
    3. Edited by Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke (London and New York, 1964), vol.3, p. 566.
    4. Tudway MS., DD/TD/44/6.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Ibid., DD/TD/2/72-74.

    Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Catalogue of Paintings in the Elkins Gallery. Philadelphia, 1921, no. 16; Henry Clifford. "The George W. Elkins Collection." The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin; vol. 31, no. 168 (November 1935), p. 9; E. M. Benson. "Problems of Portraiture." Magazine of Art vol. 30 (November 1937), p. 20, repro. p. 20; Ellis K. Waterhouse. Gainsborough. London, 1958, p. 93, no. 679.