Elizabeth Linley, Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan as Saint Cecilia (1754-1792)

On display in:

Baron's Room

Order image © All images subject to copyright

Artist or maker

Reynolds, Joshua (b.1723, d.1792)



see commentary for dating

Place of production

  • London, England, United Kingdom


  • oil on canvas

Type of object

  • paintings

Accession number


Full-length portait of Mrs Elizabeth Linley Sheridan as Saint Cecilia. Elizabeth sits facing the left, with her left side in profile, on a very low stool before a pipe organ, which she plays. She wears a simple belted muslin dress with a gauze collar. There is an open book on the organ, but Elizabeth appears to stare at clouds and a ray of light that materialise above the organ. Behind, there are two young angels singing from a book they hold open.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)

1428 x 1155
1360 x 1100 - sight

Signature & date

not signed or dated



  • Commissioned in 1775 by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (b.1751, d.1816); acquired by Sheridan's attorney Henry Burgess around 1816; sold by Henry Burgess to the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice (b.1780, d.1863), after 1827; by descent to the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne Henry Fitzmaurice (b.1845, d.1927); sold by the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne to Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, 20 November 1888; bought from Agnew's by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898) for £17,000, stock no.5051; inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.

Exhibition history

  • Royal Academy Exhibition, 1775, London, no. 232 'A lady, in the character of S. Caecilia'
  • British Institute Exhibition, 1813, London, no. 101
  • South Kensington, 1867, London, no. 665)
  • Royal Academy Exhibition, 1884, London, no. 209


  • Waddesdon (National Trust)
  • Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957


  • E. Malone; The works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 3 vols; London; Cadell & Davies; 1798; vol. 1, p. lxviii.
  • Anna Jameson; Companion to the Most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art; London; Saunders and Otley; 1844; pp. 329-330.
  • Gustav Friedrich Waagen; Treasures of Art in Great Britain: being an account of the chief collections of paintings, drawings, sculptures, illuminated mss; 3 vols; London; John Murray; 1854-1857; vol. 3, p. 160.
  • C R Leslie, T. Taylor; The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 2 vols; London; John Murray; 1865; vol. 2, pp. 551-53.
  • Buckinghamshire Advertiser; 03 August 1889; p. 8.
  • Algernon Graves, William Vine Cronin; A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 4 vols; London; Henry Graves; 1899-1901; vol. 3, pp. 887-90.
  • Ellis Waterhouse, The English Pictures at Waddesdon Manor, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 54, August 1959, 49-56; p. 52.
  • Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; pp. 86-88, cat no. 31, ill.
  • Renate Prochno; Joshua Reynolds; Weinheim; VCH, Acta Humaniora; 1990; pp. 85-86.
  • Martin Postle, Reynolds's Portraits at Waddesdon Manor: Painting for Posterity, Apollo, 139, 1994, 19-33; pp. 22, 24, fig. 5.
  • Martin Postle; Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures; Cambridge; Cambridge University Press; 1995; p. 20.
  • Alan Chedzoy; Sheridan's Nightingale: the story of Elizabeth Linley; London; Allison & Busby Ltd (London); 1997; p. 146, ill.
  • Linda Kelly; Richard Brinsley Sheridan: A Life; London; Sinclair - Stevenson; 1997; pp. 176-77, ill.
  • Stella Tillyard; Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald, 1763-98; London; Chatto and Windus; 1997; pp. 194-95, ill.
  • Stephanie Tasch; Studien zum weiblichen Rollenporträt in England von Anthonis van Dyck bis Joshua Reynolds; Weimar; Verlagll. Datenbank fuer Geisteswisswenchafter; 1999; p. 345, fig. 67.
  • David Mannings, Martin Postle; Sir Joshua Reynolds: a Complete Catalogue of his Paintings; 2 vols; London; Yale University Press; 2000; p. 412, no. 1614, fig. 1154.
  • Robyn Asleson; Notorious Muse: The Actress in British Art and Culture 1776-1812; London; Yale University Press; 2003; p. 43.
  • Gill Perry; Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre 1768-1820; New Haven, London; The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Yale University Press; 2007; p. 153, fig. 112.
  • Jan Blanc; Van Gogh; Paris; Citadelles et Hazenod; 2017; p. 366, ill.
Other details

Subject person

  • Elizabeth Sheridan, Sitter
  • Miss Coote Purdon, possibly pictured