Thomas Gainsborough

1727 - 1788
Gainsborough, Thomas
Detail from Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of the Artist with his Wife and Daughter, about 1748

Gainsborough was, with Reynolds (his main rival), the leading portrait painter in England in the later 18th century. The feathery brushwork of his mature work and rich sense of colour contribute to the enduring popularity of his portraits. Unlike Reynolds, he avoids references to Italian Renaissance art or the antique, and shows his sitters in fashionable contemporary dress.


He was a foundation member of the Royal Academy, though he later quarrelled with it over the hanging of his pictures. He became a favourite painter of George III and his family.

He was born at Sudbury, Suffolk, the son of a wool manufacturer. He trained in London, and set up in practice in Ipswich about 1752. In 1759 he moved to Bath, a fashionable spa, attracting many clients for his portraits. He settled in London in 1774. His private inclination was for landscape and rustic scenes, and his amusing letters record his impatience with his clients' demand for portraits.

Related paintings

Dr Ralph Schomberg
Thomas Gainsborough
about 1770
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Thomas Gainsborough
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Mr and Mrs Andrews
Thomas Gainsborough
about 1750
Mr and Mrs Andrews
Mrs Siddons
Thomas Gainsborough
1785
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The Market Cart
Thomas Gainsborough
1786
The Market Cart
The Painter's Daughters chasing a Butterfly
Thomas Gainsborough
probably about 1756
The Painter's Daughters chasing a Butterfly
The Painter's Daughters with a Cat
Thomas Gainsborough
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Thomas Gainsborough
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