Thomas Watson after Sir Joshua Reynolds
The Montgomery Sisters
32 x 27.5 inches
Mezzotint engraving by Thomas Watson after the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds; published in London in 1776.
The portrait after which this large-scale mezzotint was taken is one of Reynolds's largest and most elaborate attempts at the "Great Style". The painting was commissioned by the Rt. Hon. Luke Gardiner (created Baron Mountjoy in 1789) to celebrate his betrothal to Elizabeth Montgomery and he specifically requested Reynolds to portray his fiancé alongside her two sisters in an emblematic or historical setting. The resulting image is one of Reynolds most charming, successful and dramatic group portraits. The sisters are posed in "historical attitudes" an expression that would later reach its apogee with the infamous Emma Hamilton. The Three Graces adorn a statue of Hymen with garlands of flowers, a most respectable endeavour for ladies of such high social standing. The sitters are the daughters of William Montgomery of Magbie Hall: Elizabeth Montgomery stands in the middle between her sisters with Mrs. Beresford to the left and Lady Townsend to the right. Elizabeth Montgomery excelled at "Theatricals" and gave a very convincing performance as Lady Macbeth. Sadly she died in childbirth in 1783, just seven years after this print was made.