Thomas Gainsborough

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Thomas Gainsborough was the most dominant British portraitist of the second half of the 18th century in all of England. Apart from being the founding member of the Royal Academy, Gainsborough is also credited as being the originator of the 18th century British landscape school. Today Gainsborough is regarded as the greatest masters of the English school of portraiture. Throughout his career as an artist Gainsborough remained very active, until his death he had made more than 300 paintings, out of which 220 were portraits. After his death only 56 of his paintings were discovered and another 158 works only which were then exhibited in galleries across the world. Gainsborough’s portraits are famous for their magical surreal touch and the way Gainsborough manages to make them look distinguished.

Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727 in a small town of Sudbury Suffolk. By the age of 10 he had painted and sketched pretty much every tree and landscape corner of the tiny village which his family called home. Impressed by their son’s talents Thomas was encouraged and supported by his parents and he soon left Sudbury for London to study art at a young age of 13. The next few years saw Gainsborough work in studios of various artists; it would take another 8 years before the budding artist was able to showcase his first work. As an artist he always stayed true to his vision and claimed the eye was all one needed in order to be a real artist. Apart from landscapes Gainsborough realized early on that his true strength as an artist lay in making portraits. Soon he developed a strong clientele for which he would paint their portraits on a steady basis. Besides this he continued to exhibit his work in numerous exhibitions and museums as well. Gainsborough was smart enough to know that he needed to continue working in order to maintain his name and reputation as he was in a time where there was stiff competition amongst artists for fame and fortune. In order to keep his name and reputation alive, Gainsborough never stopped painting during his career. One would think that turning up so many paintings would not be of good quality but that was not the case with Gainsborough. His work never stalled on quality, each painting was better than the last and was reaped in sheer excellent quality. This is the main reason he was eulogized in the Royal Academy – due to his consistency in producing brilliant quality work on a timely basis.

Thomas Gainsborough was particularly eminent when it came to the touch and insight which he inhabited into his works, this why he stood far above the others as a portraiture. The sheer capacity with which he observed and then painted his objects was of no match for the other artists during the same time. To this day his work is unparalleled, in 2011 one of his masterpieces the portrait of Miss Read was sold for a record price of £6.5M to Read’s  descendants in London.

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