Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)|
By Edward Bathurst Ryder
Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1727. From an early
age, he was drawn to art and to the beauties of the English countryside.
At the age of 15 his parents decided that his talent was such that he
deserved more formal training and he was sent to London where he studied
first under the engraver Gravelot and later at St. Martinís Lane Academy.
After marrying, the young Gainsborough established himself as a popular
local painter in the town of his birth before moving on to Ipswich. At a
time when landscape work was generally considered to be mere background
painting and was often allotted to painters' apprentices, he delighted in
painting scenes of nature. So fond was he of natural settings that he
would bring rocks, bits of grass, and even vegetable greens into his studio
to set up little mock landscape models. It was not until he later moved to
Bath in about 1760 that he became more fashionable and more famous. Soon,
he found his skills as a portrait painter in high demand among the elite of
As his fame increased, he moved to London where, in 1768, he was one of the
first members of the Royal Academy. Known for his warm, natural
depictions, much of his work is slightly less formal in tone that that of
his famous contemporary (and sometimes rival) Sir Joshua Reynolds. Among
his most famous portraits are those of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan,
David Garrick, Lord Cornwallis, and that of the young Jonathan Buttall
which has come to be known as the "Blue Boy" His landscapes are less
well-known, though "The Market Cart" and "The Watering Place" are widely
admired for their evocative, pastoral beauty.
Gainsborough's House The museum and art gallery at the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough.