ID number: BIRBI-2013.1
Institution: The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker: Reynolds, Joshua (1723-1792)
Title / Object name: Maria Marow Gideon (1767-1834) and her Brother, William (1775-1805)
Object type: Painting
Place made: London
Date made: 1786/7
Materials: Oil on canvas
Measurements: 240 x 148 cm, 268 x 176 x 14.5cm
Provenance: Painted for the sitter's father, Sir Sampson Gideon, Bt; by descent to Sir Culling Eardley, 1861; Mrs Culling Hanbury, Bedwell Park, 1900; Col Freemantle, by whom sold to Agnew’s, 14 July 1919; Agnew’s by whom sold to the 1st Viscount Cowdray, 5 November 1919; by descent at Cowdray Park, until accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax, 2010; Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government and allocated to the Henry Barber Trust , 2013.
Maria Marow Gideon was born in November 1767, married Gregory, 14th Lord Saye and Sele in 1794, and died in September 1834. Her brother, William, born in May 1775, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army but died aged just 30 and unmarried in September 1805. Maria was the eldest daughter, and William the second son, of Sir Sampson Gideon, Bt, and his wife, Maria Marow Wilmot. Sir Sampson was the sole heir of his father, the immensely wealthy Jewish financier Samson Gideon, who assembled an important collection of paintings.
Maria sat four times for Reynolds in September 1786, and again in May 1787 and February 1788. William's name appears three or four times in Reynolds' pocket-books between September and December 1786, while his father visited the artist in April 1787, and paid Reynolds £300 for the portrait in June that year.
This splendid portrait marks a high watermark in Reynolds’s late style. It is as much about high fashion as personality. As the costume historian Aileen Ribeiro has observed: ‘Maria Gideon is extremely up-to-date in her black and white ensemble, white muslin dress with long, tight sleeves, matching fichu over the breast, black silk stole, black beaver hat with white ostrich feathers – even her hair, with its elaborately dishevelled curls, is powdered white. The only touch of colour [in] her dress is her sash of blue watered silk. Her brother is dressed in what…would have [been] called “the highest ton” with his cutaway coat, short double-breasted waistcoat, buff-coloured breeches and jockey boots.'
Notes: Exhibited: Royal Academy 1788, no. 226: ‘Portraits of a young lady and her brother’; British Institution 1861, no. 166; Royal Academy 1968, no. 84; Royal Academy 1986, no. 142; Madrid 1988, no. 16.; 'The Great Spectacle: The Royal Academy and its Summer Exhibition', Royal Academy, London, 11 June - 19 August 2018