John Taylor (1738–1814)

about 1778
Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727–1788)


75.9 x 64.5 cm (29 7/8 x 25 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Britain, 1750–1800 / Portraits Gallery (Gallery 141)





The sitter was the son of a co-founder of Lloyds Bank and one of the most notable men in the rising industrial city of Birmingham. He married his wife Sarah in 1778; her portrait, designed as a pair to this, is in Washington’s National Gallery of Art.


About 1778, commissioned by the sitter, John Taylor (b. 1738 - d. 1814), Bordesley Park and Moseley Hall, Birmingham [see note 1]; 1903, by descent to George William Taylor, Pickenham Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk and Turvey, Bedfordshire; 1906, sold by George William Taylor to M. Knoedler's, London, Paris, and New York, (Knoedler's London stock no. 4140, New York stock no. 11073) and P. & D. Colnaghi's, London and New York (private ledgers), and Trotti et Cie., Paris [see note 2]. By 1910, with Wallis and Son, London [see note 3]; 1910, Wallis and Son joint account with Agnew's, London, (Agnew's stock no. J 1538); 1913, sold by Agnew's to Holbrook Gaskell (b. 1813 - d. 1909), Wavertree, Liverpool; June 11, 1920, sold by Holbrook Gaskell in Christie's sale, London, lot 21, to Agnew's, London (Agnew's stock no. 5842); 1922, sold by Agnew's to C. Morland Agnew, London, and Ansdell. With Howard Young Galleries, New York and London. By 1924, Robert J. Edwards (d. 1924), Boston; 1924, by inheritance to his sisters, Hannah Marcy Edwards (d. 1929), Boston, and Grace M. Edwards (d. 1938), Boston; 1925, bequeathed by Robert J. Edwards to the MFA [see note 4]. (Accession Date: April 2, 1925)

[1] Taylor was known for being the co-founder of Lloyd's Bank in 1765.
[2] The painting was acquired as a joint account from Taylor, presumably sold by Trotti et Cie.
[3] According to Agnew's. From whom Wallis & Son purchased the painting is unknown.
[4] Siblings Robert (d. 1924), Hannah (d. 1929), and Grace (d. 1938) Edwards were each collectors of art, who seemed to have had joint ownership of the objects in their possession. When Robert died, he bequeathed his collection to the MFA in memory of their mother, Juliana Cheney Edwards. In 1925, after his death, part of his collection was acquired by the Museum, and the remainder went to his sisters, with the understanding that the objects would ultimately be left to the MFA in the collection begun in memory of their mother. The collections of Hannah and Grace were left to the MFA in 1939, following Grace's death. It is not always possible to determine exactly which paintings each sibling had owned

Credit Line

Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection