A pair of portraits of a husband and wife are to be reunited for the first time in over a hundred years at Dorset Museum this Valentine’s Day.

The Museum has taken guardianship of A Portrait of Elizabeth Bragge by Thomas Gainsborough dating to 1767. From 14 February 2023, the painting and a companion portrait of Elizabeth’s husband John Bragge will be reunited in the Museum’s Artists’ Dorset gallery.

The portraits were passed down through the Bragge family until 1909 when they were sold at auction, both entering ownership in the USA. In 1983, Dorset Museum was able to purchase the portrait of John Bragge. But Elizabeth’s portrait remained in private ownership.

In 2022, the portrait was bequeathed by Mrs. Delia Brinton to Charities Aid Foundation America (CAF America), who loaned the portrait to the Dorset Museum for display over a period of three years.

CAF America said: ”We are grateful for the generous donation of this historic portrait to CAF America, and we are thrilled to partner with the Dorset Museum to reunite these beautiful pieces. This story perfectly represents why CAF America accepts donations of complex assets, as they enable us to accomplish our charitable mission and that of our donors in many creative ways beyond simple cash donations.’

Elizabeth Selby, Interim Director of Dorset Museum said: “‘We are thrilled to have taken guardianship of this important painting by Thomas Gainsborough, and delighted to reunite it with its companion piece in the Museum’s Artists’ Dorset gallery.

“They are part of an important collection of Georgian portraits held by the Museum, through which the society of 18th century Dorset can be better understood.”

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Image: [Left] A Portrait of Elizabeth Bragge by Thomas Gainsborough [Right] A Portrait of John Bragge by Thomas Gainsborough © Mark NorthDorset Museum 2023