John Garden (1759–1820) of the City of Westminster bought the Redisham Hall estate, Suffolk, in 1808. He razed the Elizabethan house on the site and built a new residence, which was completed in 1823, after his death. He and his wife, Annie, had two children, Ann Margaret, born 1793, and John, born 1796. Ann Margaret married Charles Burmester and lived in London. Her brother, John, and his wife, Amelia, settled at Redisham Hall. The couple had four daughters and three sons (biographical information drawn largely from the Garden family papers, held at the Lowestoft Record Office, Suffolk, provided by Gudrun Reinke, searchroom assistant).
Given the younger John Garden’s date of birth, this unfinished canvas must have been painted in 1796, or perhaps 1797, a dating confirmed by the sitters' costumes. Evidently Mr. Garden was pleased with the likenesses, and unconcerned about the absence of finish, as he must have paid for the portrait and taken it away in the state in which we see it. The canvas had been exceedingly dirty and, when cleaned in recent years, proved to be in very good condition.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]