Gardner was Reynolds' assistant for a short period and his style clearly owes much to this contact.

Towards the end of his life he befriended the young John Constable, whose portrait he painted. This picture is a good example of Gardner's attractive and idiosyncratic style. It depicts a woman in a landscape holding a mask of Comedy. Gardner was no great draughtsman (note the right arm), but had a strong sense of feminine grace and a nice feeling for landscape - no doubt something that drew him to Constable. He preferred to work boldly in gouache, often combined with pastel rather than oil, and most of his portraits are on a reduced scale. Many, including this one, have a characteristic type of frame which he seems to have designed himself.


Sir Geoffrey Codrington, 1978

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