Thomas Gainsborough

English artist (1727 - 1788) noted for his portraits and landscapes

Sir Thomas Gainsborough was a renowned English portrait and landscape painter and printmaker, and one of the most fashionable artists of the 18th century. He was the great rival of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-92) for the patronage of the English aristocracy and gentry.

Thomas was the son of John Gainsborough, a clothier and crêpe maker, and later a postmaster. Thomas was an artistic prodigy who appears to have recieved early training in Suffolk from Francis Wyantz and Francis Hayman. In London between 1740 and 1748 he may have received instruction from the Frenchman Hubert Gravelot and again with Hayman. His early work was influenced by the 17th-century Dutch School.

He returned to Sudbury for a few years following his father's death in 1748 where he continued to develop his landscape painting but also turned to portraiture to make more money. He then moved to Ipswich in the 1750s to widen the market for his portraits, and on to Bath in around 1759 where he became a successful portrait painter to Bath's fashionable visitors and Joshua Reynolds' chief rival. His nephew Gainsborough Dupont was apprenticed to him in 1772 - his only recorded pupil. In 1774 he moved to London, becoming a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768. He was later to quarrel with the Academy over picture hanging, refusing to exhibit with them for a period of time, when he instead held private exhibitions.

Besides portraits and landscapes, in his later years Gainsborough painted 'fancy pictures' of imaginary, arcadian scenes.
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Suffolk: Sudbury
  • Died
  • Place of death
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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