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Sir Joshua Reynolds, Anne, 2nd Countess of Albemarle

Key facts
Full title Anne, 2nd Countess of Albemarle
Artist Sir Joshua Reynolds
Artist dates 1723 - 1792
Date made about 1760
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 126.5 × 101 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1888
Inventory number NG1259
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
Anne, 2nd Countess of Albemarle
Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lady Anne, 2nd Countess of Albemarle, is approaching 60 in this portrait. She is the widow of William-Anne Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle, with whom she had 15 children, although only four sons and two daughters survived childhood. She holds a shuttle and is engaged in ‘knotting’ – a pastime involving making knots in thread which could then be sewn as decoration onto other items. A pair of scissors and a workbasket lie on the table beside her. Her face is almost dead-white because the paint has been bleached by the light.

The idea that Lady Albemarle should be painted by Reynolds almost certainly came from her second son, Augustus Keppel, a Commodore in the Royal Navy whom Reynolds portrayed at least seven times. Lady Albemarle sat for Reynolds 11 times between 26 September 1757 and 28 June 1759 and the portrait was finished by 1760, although Reynolds was not paid for it for a further 12 years.

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