Sir Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788)

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Gainsborough, Landscape in Suffolk 1748

Landscape in Suffolk 1748
Oil on Canvas 66 x 95 cm

Gainsborough, Self-Portrait 1754

Self-Portrait 1754
Oil on Canvas 58 x 49 cm

Thomas Gainsborough was an English portrait and landscape painter born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. Gainsborough’s father, a humble weaver, was the first to recognize his son’s artistic skills. At the age of thirteen Gainsborough’s parents allowed him to leave home for an apprentice position with engraver Gravelot in London. Once in London, Gainsborough entered an art academy and began studying under William Hogwarth and Francis Hayman.

Gainsborough,  Two Daughters with a Cat 1759

Two Daughters with a Cat 1759
Oil on Canvas 76 x 63 cm
National Gallery, London

By the 1740s, Gainsborough had started a family with his wife, Margaret Burr and was shifting his concentration from landscape paintings to portraits. The family moved away from London, living in various towns including Sudbury, Ipswich and Bath. In Bath, Gainsborough began to find a strong client base for his portraits.

Gainsborough, Sunset 1760

Sunset 1760
Oil on Canvas 143.5 x 154 cm
Tate Gallery

Gainsborough, Artist's Daughters, Molly and Peggy 1760

Artist’s Daughters, Molly and Peggy 1760
Oil on Canvas

In 1769 Gainsborough began participating in annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London and became one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of the Arts. Gainsborough became known for painting well-known figures in high society. Gainsborough exhibited with the academy until 1773, when his relationship with the academy was strained.

Gainsborough, Karl Friedrich Abel 1765

Karl Friedrich Abel 1765
Oil on Canvas

Gainsborough, Johann Christian Bach

Johann Christian Bach
Oil on Canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London

The following year, Gainsborough returned to London with his family and settled in the Schomberg House, Pall Mall. Gainsborough eventually improved his relationship with the academy and continued to have annual exhibitions. During the following decade, Gainsborough painted portraits of King George III and the queen, in addition to several other members of royalty.

Gainsborough,  View of Elizabeth Castle in the Island of Jersey 18th Century

4th Duke of Argyll 1767
Oil on Canvas
National Portrait Gallery of London

Gainsborough,  Harvest Wagon 1767

Harvest Wagon 1767
Oil on Canvas

Gainsborough,  Lady in Blue 1770

Lady in Blue 1770
Oil on Canvas

Gainsborough,  Gainsborough's Daughter Mary 1777

Gainsborough’s Daughter Mary 1777
Oil on Canvas

During Gainsborough’s later years he returned to painting landscape paintings and “ordinary” people that were not particularly well known. By he time of Gainsborough’s death his paintings had spread to important collections throughout England. Gainsborough remains an important name in British painting. Do you think you own a painting by Thomas Gainsborough? Contact us. We are the Gainsborough experts.