Portrait of Mrs Sarah Siddons, 1785
National Gallery, London
Gainsborough's model, Sarah Siddons was a Welsh-born actress, the best-known tragedienne of the 18th century. She played many of the great roles of tragedy, eschewing comedy. Her success was due to her complete concentration upon the character whom she played: she identified herself with a role and seemed possessed by it, oblivious of all else around her.