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Sarah Kirby (nee Bull); John (John) Joshua Kirby

9 of 13 portraits on display on Floor 2: Getting the Picture at Beningbrough Hall

Sarah Kirby (nee Bull); John (John) Joshua Kirby, by Thomas Gainsborough, circa 1751-1752 - NPG 1421 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sarah Kirby (nee Bull); John (John) Joshua Kirby

by Thomas Gainsborough
oil on canvas, circa 1751-1752
30 1/4 in. x 25 1/8 in. (768 mm x 637 mm)
Purchased, 1905
Primary Collection
NPG 1421


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Sittersback to top

  • (John) Joshua Kirby (1716-1774), Artist and teacher of linear perspective; friend of Thomas Gainsborough. Sitter associated with 7 portraits.
  • Sarah Kirby (nee Bull) (circa 1718-1775), Wife of John Joshua Kirby. Sitter in 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Portrait and landscape painter. Artist associated with 262 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Gainsborough got to know Kirby when the two men collaborated on a painting around 1748. They became life-long friends and soon after Gainsborough painted this informal portrait of the couple and their dog. While the scene seems to be set in the English countryside - probably their native Suffolk - X-rays show that Gainsborough's original plan was grander and more French in style. The rustic landscape once included a classical sculpture which Gainsborough covered up with the tree-trunk. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

Linked publicationsback to top