In all probability the picture represents the artist and his wife. It is believed to have been painted at the time of their marriage, in 1746, and is therefore an early work.
The subject recalls the conversation pieces, small groups of people in a landscape that had been made very popular in 1728 by Philip Mercier, a French artist who had been appointed principal painter to the British court. He probably saw these models in the studio of Hayman, who had already painted a conversation piece around 1730, The Wagg Family of Windsor. It is also likely that Gainsborough had painted landscape backdrops for Hayman's portraits in the 1740s. In any case, the influence was mutual, and Hayman altered his own style following his collaboration with the young painter.
The choice of iconography shows French and Dutch influences, but the characteristic and original trait of Gainsborough's work is the greater importance he bestows on the landscape.
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