Dazzling acquisition for Barber Institute

A spectacular double-portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds,depicting two fashionable young people, has been allocated tothe Barber Institute of Fine Arts under the Government’s AIL (Acceptance in Lieuof Inheritance Tax) scheme.

This fascinating large oil painting, MariaMarow Gideon (1767-1834) and her Brother, William (1775-1805), is only thesecond work allocated to the University of Birmingham-based collection sincethe scheme’s inception – and is a welcome addition to the gallery in its 80thanniversary year.

Painted between 1786 and 1788, the subjects are the children of SirSamson Gideon, later Baron Eardley of Spalding. Exemplifying Reynolds’s late style at its best, it is as much about highfashion as personality, with the subjects sporting the very latest styles. 

Nicola Kalinsky, Director of the Barber Institute,said the painting was an impressive addition to the collection’s already considerablearray of 18th-century portraits, and joins a small number ofmuch-loved pictures depicting family subjects.

"This stunning double-portraitdemonstrates Reynolds’s supreme mastery of sympathetic human depiction, even atthe very end of his long career", said Ms Kalinsky. "We are delighted andthrilled that such a complex yet endearing portrait has now found its permanenthome at the Barber, and we are extremely grateful to the AIL panel and HMGovernment. I’m sure Lady Barber would have appreciated this great example ofEnglish portraiture, and this is a wonderful way to mark the 80th anniversary of her visionary foundation".