Painted for the sitter, who presented it to James, 2nd Earl of Courtown [1731-1810], County Wexford [Ireland], Treasurer of the Household and Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales; by descent to James, 5th Earl of Courtown [1823-1914], County Wexford. Asher Wertheimer, London; sold by c. 1900 to (M. Knoedler & Co., London); sold to (Henry Reinhardt & Son, New York). John N. Willys [1873-1935], Toledo, Ohio. (M. Knoedler & Co., New York); purchased January 1918 by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.
- Arts, Industries, and Manufactures, and Loan Museum of Works of Art, National Portrait Gallery, Dublin, 1872, no. 228.
- Thomas Gainsborough: "The Harvest Wagon", Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1995, no. 19 (shown only in Toronto).
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 71, no. 98, as by Thomas Gainsborough.
- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 241, repro. 14, as by Thomas Gainsborough.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 110, repro.
- Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham. "Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough." Walpole Society 33 (1953): 111.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 54, as by Thomas Gainsborough.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 47, repro., as by Thomas Gainsborough.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 144, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 167, repro.
- Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 64-66, repro. 65.
The fairly fine canvas is plain woven; it has been lined. The ground is white, of moderate thickness. The painting is executed in thin washes that block out the composition and serve as a middle tone, followed by more heavily pigmented, richer colors, with the shading accomplished by blending wet into wet or by dragging a lightly loaded wide brush across a broad area. The final surface texture and detail is added in very fluid, rich paint. The thin, original glazes have been abraded and reglazed, and the impasto has been slightly flattened during lining. The darks have developed traction crackle. There are scattered retouchings. The natural resin varnish has not discolored.