Elizabeth and Mary Linley were both professional singers. They were daughters of the composer, Tom Linley the elder, and sisters of the most distinguished musician in the family, the composer and friend of Mozart, Tom Linley the younger. Elizabeth (seen here standing) later married the playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan. This painting is more about their characters than their singing careers. They have sought out this secluded woody bank not just in order to practise, but because of their instinctive love of wild places. To love Nature was regarded in the eighteenth century as a virtue in itself and as a symptom of 'natural' fine feelings: the same feelings that lead these sisters to love each other. They exhibit what their contemporaries called 'sensibility'. Though wearing silk gowns of the latest fashion, the sisters seem to blend with their woodland setting. Gainsborough echoes the colours of the landscape and even its rough texture in the painting of the costumes. Coarse grasses grow over Mary's dress almost as if they were being stitched into its design. More than anything it is Gainsborough's handling which lends the image its remarkable organic unity. He was famous for using long-handled brushes and for working up every part of the painting together. The brush-strokes are long, loose and capricious, more like the free shading of a rapid pen sketch than a finished painting.