Collection Online
Miss Susanna Gale
oil on canvas
210.0 × 118.8 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1934
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th to 18th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
About this work

When Miss Susanna Gale (1749–1823) sat for Joshua Reynolds, she was just fourteen years of age, and had travelled to London, from her home in Jamaica, to complete her education. As the daughter of Francis Gale, Esquire, a British sugar planter, Miss Gale was a wealthy heiress. By the summer of 1760, Reynolds had established himself in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square) as the pre-eminent portrait painter in London.

Subjects (general)
Human Figures Law, Civics and Protest Portraits
Subjects (specific)
adolescents aristocrats dresses (garments) flowers (plant components) full-length figures lace (needlework) rose (genus)
Reproduction, 2002, based on a frame contemporary with the painting


The former framing of Reynolds' Miss Susanna Gale posed a number of interesting questions.  The castellated form, the hardware at the upper and lower edges and the cropping of approximately two inches of the image along the top and bottom edges all suggested the fitting was not a picture frame but some other form of interior architectural embellishment.

Research toward reframing the Reynolds began in 1998.  The frame, in the Marratta style, fitted to the Portrait of Dr Markham, dated 1761, provided a potential model.  Unless a patron negotiated a specific framing requirement, Reynolds would by default use frames in the Carlo Marratta style. Despite a number of Marratta style frames appearing on paintings in the 18th century collection at the NGV, this slight variant of the style was thought to offer a good solution to framing Miss Susanna Gale.

The Markham frame had a width of 4" which was scaled up to 6" for Miss Susanna Gale.  The frame, entirely hand carved in jelutong and gilded with gold leaf, was made in London and fitted to the painting in 2002.  The frame was made in four sections and re-assembled in Melbourne; this reflected a number of historic frames in the collection that break down for transport.

Reproduction - commissioned by the NGV

Hand carved in Jelutong and gilded.