‘The Blue Boy’ is a proud demonstration by Thomas Gainsborough of what British painting and grand manner portraiture can achieve. The popularity and influence of the painting have made it an icon, quoted by contemporary artists and referenced in Hollywood films.
The return of ‘The Blue Boy’ to the Gallery exactly a century later allows us to rethink the legacy of Gainsborough’s portraiture more widely, particularly given its emblematic representation of ‘Britishness’.
Paterson Joseph has extensively researched the 18th-century Black writer and composer Ignatius Sancho, whose portrait by Gainsborough is found in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
In conversation with Christine Riding, the Jacob Rothschild Head of the Curatorial Department, Joseph will explore the narratives created through Gainsborough’s work, revealing a portrait of 18th-century Britain and how it is remembered today.
Paterson Joseph is an actor and writer. His work includes stints at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as roles in 'Peep Show', 'Timeless', 'Noughts and Crosses' and 'Vigil'. Films include 'The Beach', 'Aeon Flux' and 'In The Name of the Father'. He is the author of 'Sancho - An Act of Remembrance', a monodrama and 'Julius Caesar and Me - Exploring Shakespeare’s African Play'. His debut novel, 'The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho' will be published in October 2022 by Dialogue Books.