THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH R.A
Portrait of Lady Willielma Glenorchy
The Hon. Mrs. Baillie Hamilton
Lt. Col. the Hon. Thomas George Breadalbane Morgan-Grenville-Gavin, D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., forming part of the Breadalbane Collection, Langton Duns, Berwickshire
Christie’s, London, 26th May 1922, lot 120 (sold to Leggatt 4,000 guineas)
With Leggatt Brothers Limited, 30, St. James’s Street, London
Ogden Reid, New York
Mrs Ogden Reid, New York, by descent
Private Collection, United Kingdom
London, Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition of Works by Old Masters and by Deceased Artists of the British School, 1893, no. 136.
Royal Academy, Exhibition Catalogue, Winter 1893, page 31
Algernon Graves, F.S.A. A Century of Loan Exhibitions 1813-1912 (London
1913-15; Bath, Kingsmead Reprints, facsimile edition, 1970, 3 Volumes) Volume I, page 387
Art Prices Current 1921-22 (London, The Art Trade Journal, 1922) pages 314 and 315
A.C.R. Carter (ed.) The Year’s Art 1923 (London, Hutchinson and Co., 1923) page 299
E. K. Waterhouse ‘Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough’ in The Walpole Society, Volume XXXIII (Oxford, 1953), page 49
E. K Waterhouse Gainsborough (London, Edward Hulton Limited, 1958) page 71, no. 316
Willielma, Viscountess Glenorchy (1741-1786), was the daughter of William Maxwell (died 1741), a medical practitioner in Kirkcudbright, and his wife, Elizabeth Hairstanes (died circa 1806) of Craig. At the age of twelve, her widowed mother remarried a judge, Charles Erskine, Lord Alva (1680-1763). Following the introduction of Willielma to Edinburgh society, she married John Campbell, Viscount Glenorchy (1738-1771), son and heir of John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane, and Arabella Pershall, in September 1761. As a wedding gift, the Earl gave Taymouth Castle to his son, who also inherited Great Sugnall house, Staffordshire, from his mother.
At Great Sugnall, Lady Glenorchy made the acquaintance of the Hill family at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire. The Reverend Rowland Hill and his sister were both Calvinistic Methodists, influencing Lady Glenorchy to combine Methodist principles with her native Presbyterianism in 1765. In 1770, she reopened St. Mary's Chapel in Niddry's Wynd in the old town of Edinburgh, where she invited Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Wesleyans to preach. Following the death of her husband in 1771, and having no children, she embarked upon a career of evangelical preaching, restoring a church at Strathfillan on the Taymouth estates, and opening a number of chapels in both Scotland and England.
Gainsborough is said to have painted her again at in later life (half-length, wearing a red dress with a lace shawl and cap; (Christie's, London, 20th November 1987, lot 94 ), but the identification of that portrait with her is problematic, since she died in 1786 aged only forty-five, whereas the sitter there appears much older.