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Artists Thomas Gainsborough
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Thomas Gainsborough

British Painter

Movements and Styles: The Rococo, Realism, Romanticism

Born: May 14, 1727 - Sudbury, England

Died: August 2, 1788 - London, England

Thomas Gainsborough Timeline

Quotes

"You please me by saying that no other fault is found in your picture than the roughness of the surface for that part being of use in giving force to the effect at a proper distance, and what a judge of painting knows an original from a copy by; in short being the touch of the pencil, which is harder to preserve than smoothness."
Thomas Gainsborough
"Everyone knows that the grand style must consist in plainness and simplicity, and that silks and stains, pearls and trifling ornaments would be as hurt full to simplicity as flourishes in a Psalm Tune; but fresco would no more do for portraits than an Organ would please ladies in the hands of Fischer; there must be variety of lively touches and surprising effects to make the heart dance, or else they had better be in church - so in portrait painting there must be a luster and finishing to bring it up to individual life."
Thomas Gainsborough
"Do you really think that a regular composition in the Landskip way should even be fill'd with history, or any figure bus such as fill a space (I won't say stop a gap) or create a little business for the eye to be drawn from the trees in order to return to them with more glee."
Thomas Gainsborough

"One part of a picture ought to be like the first part of a tune; that you can guess what follows, and that makes the second part of the tune and so I've done."

Synopsis

Thomas Gainsborough achieved name and fame as the best-known English artist of the 18th century for his outstanding innovations and techniques in both landscape and portraiture. Having been introduced to the Rococo style of art in the early part of his career, Gainsborough's works echoed luxury and leisure of aristocratic society through contemporary fashion. But his most influential works were ones of idealized pastoral life in the rural countryside, which would be taken further by the modern artists of Romanticism. With his exceptional abilities and passion for landscapes he exerted a powerful sway over the British School of painting and earned a reputation as an artist of national significance.

Key Ideas

Exuding an affinity for Rococo stylistics, Gainsborough's portraiture was replete with lyricism and elegance that was a perfect way to depict the opulence of his upper class clientele.
Gainsborough made conscious efforts at subverting the mainstream trends by displaying tendencies of deviation and social satire. For instance, in the work Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, the viewer's presence is not only acknowledged but the figures are also portrayed with uncanny expressions to powerfully convey the condescending attitude of the aristocratic society.
Disregarding the conventions of patron selection, Gainsborough opened up the genre of portraiture even to the socially controversial personalities. This concept would be taken to the next level by the Realists.
With his unconventional ways of painting that employed allegory and idealism, his works presented a departure from dominant academic tradition of history painting and thereby became an inspiring source for artists of Romanticism.
The poetic delineation of nature and the rural folk therein was a unique aesthetic developed by Gainsborough and in this respect he is absolutely a leader of British School of landscape painting as well as a precursor for artists like John Constable.

Biography

Thomas Gainsborough Photo

Childhood and Education

Thomas Gainsborough was the youngest son of John and Mary Gainsborough. Of his ten siblings, it was Thomas who had shown interest in painting early in life. His desire for portraiture and landscapes began to surface when he was barely ten years old. Knowledge of textures and fabrics that he had gained by observing textiles in the cloth industry where his father worked, as a weaver and wool handler, was put to best use by him for the costumes of his portrait subjects.

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Thomas Gainsborough Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Thomas Gainsborough
Interactive chart with Thomas Gainsborough's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Anthony van Dyck
Hubert Fran├žois Gravelot
Francis Hayman
William Hogarth
Joshua ReynoldsJoshua Reynolds

Personal Contacts

Karl Friedrich Abel
Johann Christian Bach
James Christie
Allan Cunningham
Joshua Kirby

Movements

The BaroqueThe Baroque
RealismRealism
The RococoThe Rococo

Influences on Artist
Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough
Years Worked: 1744 - 1788
Influenced by Artist

Artists

John ConstableJohn Constable
Francis Hayman
Thomas Lawrence
Joshua ReynoldsJoshua Reynolds
James WhistlerJames Whistler

Personal Contacts

Karl Friedrich Abel
Johann Christian Bach
James Christie
Allan Cunningham
Joshua Kirby

Movements

British School
RealismRealism
The RococoThe Rococo
RomanticismRomanticism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Rohini Iyengar

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jessica DiPalma
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Rohini Iyengar
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