Urgent Museum Notice

The Family of the Earl Gower

Close up of The Family of the Earl Gower

A realistic painting features eight light-skinned figures arranged in a pastoral setting: three women, two men, and a young girl tending to two toddlers. The scene includes classical references such as lyrical costumes, lyre, scroll, floral garlands, and marble bust.

Angelica Kauffman, The Family of the Earl Gower, 1772; Oil on canvas, 59 1/4 x 82 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

The Family of the Earl Gower
Angelica Kauffman

The Family of the Earl Gower demonstrates Angelica Kauffman’s ability to render complex, multi-figure compositions. It also illustrates her frequent inclusion of classicizing elements in contemporary scenes.

Granville Leveson-Gower (1721–1803), known as Viscount Trentham, the Earl Gower, and the first Marquess of Stafford, was a British politician. Kauffman depicts him as the patriarch of his large family, which has gathered in a park-like setting.  The lyrical costumes, lyre, scroll, floral garlands, and marble bust, which bears a slight resemblance to the earl, all reference classical antiquity.

The Neoclassical composition forms an implied triangle that begins at the far right with Lady Susannah, the earl’s third wife. Our eyes travel left to the daughter in the rose-colored tunic at the apex of the triangle and downward to the daughter seated beside the bust, forming the triangle’s third corner.

The earl’s son and heir, 14-year-old George Leveson-Gower, eventually the first Duke of Sutherland, carries a book to signal his erudition. The three youngest daughters form their own vignette, seemingly focused on the rites of spring and perhaps fertility and birth (Lady Susannah was pregnant in 1772), symbolized by the lamb.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Angelica Kauffman
  • Title

    The Family of the Earl Gower
  • Date

    1772
  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    59 1/4 x 82 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    No