Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14 - Thomas Gainsborough

English portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough was born on May 14, 1727, in Suffolk, northeast of London. Proficient at drawing as a youth, he trained in London with painter and illustrator William Hogarth. By 1759 he had a successful business painting portraits in the fashionable spa city of Bath, and later became a founding member of the Royal Academy. After moving to London in 1774, he painted portraits of King George III and his queen, then remained the royals’ favorite painter even though his rival, Joshua Reynolds, was named the royal painter. Gainsborough’s famed “The Blue Boy” (c. 1770, pictured) is believed to be a portrait of a wealthy merchant’s son. The boy is actually trapped in a costume study, since his clothing is 140 years old, dating from the early 17th century and the age of Van Dyck, whom Gainsborough admired. Gainsborough sometimes used brushes on sticks six feet long to paint portraits. He preferred to paint landscapes and was impatient with clients who demanded portraits.

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