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Thomas Gainsborough, John Plampin

Key facts
Full title John Plampin
Artist Thomas Gainsborough
Artist dates 1727 - 1788
Date made probably about 1752
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 50.2 × 60.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Percy Moore Turner, 1951
Inventory number NG5984
Location Room 35
Collection Main Collection
John Plampin
Thomas Gainsborough

John Plampin is portrayed here aged about 25. The portrait was probably painted around five years before he inherited Chadacre Hall and the manor of Shimpling, Suffolk, in 1757. Gainsborough shows Plampin on Plampin land. The church tower in the background, though brushed in with only a few touches of near-transparent grey paint, is recognisable as All Saints, Lawshall, about two miles from Chadacre Hall.

Plampin is seated on the ground, his hand tucked fashionably into his waistcoat, at ease in the land he owns. His legs are splayed in an unusual fashion, which is echoed by the limbs, or branches of the tree, creating a composition with radiating spokes like a wheel. The landscape is included in the portrait to reinforce Plampin’s authority and privilege as a member of the British landed gentry, which is presented as part of the ‘natural’ order.

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