The Royal Princesses by Gainsborough, 1902
The Royal Princesses by Thomas Gainsborough, 1902.
This print is after Gainsborough's portrait of The Three Eldest Princesses: Charlotte, Princess Royal, Augusta, and Elizabeth (1784). They were the eldest daughters of King George III (1738-1820) and Queen Charlotte (1744-1818). The sisters were usually seen together and were always dressed similarly in public. Queen Charlotte wished her daughters to be well educated so their governesses and tutors were carefully selected. As Princess Royal, Charlotte (1766-1828) was constantly put on display by her parents and was expected to marry well. She had an excellent memory, but many thought her to be rather plain in appearance. She was often compared to Augusta who was considered the prettiest of the girls. Augusta (1768-1840) was terribly shy and preferred the quiet of home over the excitement of court. Elizabeth (1770-1840), like her sisters, was very sheltered by her parents. However in 1812, she did purchase The Priory in Berkshire as her personal residence. Charlotte married Prince Frederick of Wurttemburg, in 1797, and Elizabeth married Frederick VI, Landgrave of Hess-Homburg, in 1818. Augusta never married.
Thomas Gainsborough (1717-1788) was an eighteenth century painter. He specialized in portraits and landscapes. The son of a weaver, he was sent to London to study art in 1740. While there Gainsborough studied with several prominent artists of the time, including Hubert Gravelot (1699-1733) and William Hogarth (1697-1764). In 1746, he married Margaret Burr and the couple had two daughters. They moved to Bath, in 1759, where Gainsborough began to attract a fashionable clientele. By painting portraits of well known and notorious people, he was able to build a reputation for himself among the wealthy. He began exhibiting with the Society of Arts, in 1761, and became a founding member of the Royal Academy, in 1769. The Gainsboroughs moved back to London in 1774. King George III commissioned him to paint the royal family in 1780, and many more royal commissions followed. While Gainsborough was never officially appointed as royal painter, he remained the family's favorite artist throughout the remainder of his career.