Lady Sunderland became famous for later marrying Richard Malone, a rich London barrister in 1778. In 1785, King George VI honoured this barrister by making him the first Baron of Sunderland. In the 1876 work, Lady Sunderland is depicted immaculately adorned in a chiffon shawl and rich silk robe. Joshua Reynolds skillfully placed the figure in front of a section that gave the ideal landscape. The method was skilful because this kind of background created the ideal contrast with the graphic hardness of the art figure. The work by this famous artist exhibits a striking example of what can be described as 18th century English classicism.
The painting depicting Lady Sunderland by Joshua Reynolds measures a width of 147.5 by the height of 238.5 cm. In the painting, Reynolds used a medium of oil on canvas. This painting established Reynolds as among the major 18th-century European painters. It was also a testimony of the fact that he was largely influenced by famous predecessors, particularly the Italian painting maestro, Michelangelo. No doubt, this type of work contributed immensely to Reynolds receiving many honours in his work. Indeed, Joshua Reynolds was later granted the high status of a knight by English King George III.
The main style of Reynolds art revolved around what was said to be 'the idealization of the imperfect'. This unique style of painting earned Reynolds accolades from artistic gurus like John Russell, who described Reynolds as ranking among the major artistic brains that Europe ever produced in the 18th century. Ironically, in spite of becoming so famous from producing such paintings like that of Lady Sunderland, Joshua Reynolds has long been regarded by modern art experts as actually lacking in originality. He was said to have thrived more by inspiration of the world's all-time great artists like Michelangelo.
Lady Sunderland's painting, however, remains in honour as among Joshua Reynolds signature works that catapulted him to the coveted ranks of the British royalty and a knight. He has been described variously as a portrait painter and aesthetician who bestraddled the English artistic life of the 18th century. How did the artist paint famous portraits such as this one of Lady Sunderland by Joshua Reynolds in 1786? He did it in the simplest of ways. Reynolds independent style of work involved some acclaimed bold brushwork and use of a thick surface paint texture, known as impasto. This is how he accomplished some famed paintings like that of John Hamilton, which was done in 1746.