Uk News An extreme Makeover for Thomas Gainsborough's Suffolk home United Kingdom news
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Florence HallettNovember 22, 2022 7:00 am Elegant portraits such as The Blue Boy (1770) have made Thomas Gainsborough synonymous with the high-society glamour of 18th-century London and Bath. But the Suffolk town of Sudbury has never forgotten its most celebrated son. The local branch line between Marks Tey and Sudbury is named after him, and from Market Hill, in Sudbury’s town centre, his statue looks down towards his birthplace at 46 Gainsborough Street, opened as a museum in 1961 following a campaign by local figures, including the renowned painter of horses Sir Alfred Munnings. This week, Gainsborough’s House reopens as the world’s most comprehensive collection of the artist’s works, and the largest public gallery in Suffolk. Gainsborough (1727-1788) was, with his main rival Joshua Reynolds, the most celebrated portrait painter of his day, and a founding member of the Royal Academy. His early career was dominated by depictions of local landowners and merchants, such as his conversation piece Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape (c.1750), currently on show at the museum. Gainsborough’s House Collection Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) Johann Christian Bach by Thomas Gainsborough, c. 1776 Oil on canvas C: National Portrait Gallery, London Later on, he was favoured by George III and Queen Charlotte, and painted famous beauties, actors and musicians, his full-length figures and gorgeous renderings of luxury fabrics sealing his reputation as the much sought-after heir to Anthony van Dyck. Gainsborough’s love of landscape – often a major element in his portraits – sparked the transformation of this previously unloved genre, expressed in the landscaped gardens of Capability Brown, and the subsequent reimagining of the English landscape by John Constable and JMW Turner. The artist’s formative years up to the age of 13 were spent in what an auctioneer later described as a “most excellent Brickt Mansion” in Sudbury. Its origins as two weavers’ cottages knocked together is well disguised by the fine Georgian façade, added in 1723 by Gainsborough’s father John, who was a cloth manufacturer. Travelling to Sudbury in 1722, Daniel Defoe described the town’s “multitudes of poor people”, barely supported by its textile industry. Not surprisingly perhaps, Gainsborough sought the tranquillity of the surrounding countryside, where, wrote his friend and first biographer Philip Thicknesse in 1788,“nature was his teacher, and the woods of Suffolk his academy.” His artistic talent was clear, and in 1740 he left for London, where he took a series of jobs, first with a silversmith, and subsequently as a plaster model-maker and most notably, as a draughtsman for the French painter and illustrator Hubert-François Gravelot (1699-1773). Gravelot’s Covent Garden studio was close to the St Martin’s Lane Academy, set up by William Hogarth in 1735. Here, Gainsborough took lessons and rubbed shoulders with the great painters of the age, including portraitist Francis Hayman (1708-1776), who became something of a mentor. It wasn’t until 1748 that Gainsborough returned to Sudbury as a married man, and set about painting portraits of local gentry. Gainsborough House He seems to have been a frequent visitor to his home town during the intervening years, however, and a pair of tiny oil paintings on loan from Tate, both dating from around 1746-7, take the local landscape as their subject. New influences made their mark on these favoured subjects, and in the timelessly bucolic Wooded Landscape with a Herdsman Seated (1746-47), the Suffolk countryside echoes the Dutch landscape paintings that were so fashionable in London at that time. The local landscape informs the museum’s new three-storey extension, which frames a view of trees and rooftops, its clay and flint structure a deliberate reference to the surrounding geology. The woven texture of the brickwork alludes also to the town’s silk industry, a relic of which is the sprawling mulberry tree in the garden, planted in the early 1600s following a campaign by King James I to seed an English silk weaving industry. Today, Sudbury remains England’s biggest exporter of silk, acknowledged in the jewel-like interior of the museum’s new Gainsborough Gallery, lined with an emerald green damask donated by a local weaving firm. The gallery forms part of the new building and provides a suitably stately setting for Gainsborough’s larger paintings, which after his move to Bath in 1759 began to reflect the opulent interiors of his increasingly wealthy and aristocratic clients.
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.1777), on loan from Tate. After such splendour, the historic house, reached via the garden, makes a striking contrast. Though it’s newly restored, its narrow passages and uneven floors maintain a centuries-old atmosphere, and though convincingly homely, each room focuses on an aspect of Gainsborough’s life and artistic legacy, aided by furniture, paintings and miscellany from the museum’s own collection, or on long-term loan. Thomas Gainsborough Wooded Landscape with Rustic Lovers, Herdsman, Cows and Flock of Sheep at a Pool and Distant Mountains, c. 1784-85 Oil on canvas The north-facing painting room re-creates an 18th-century portraitist’s workspace, its genteel domestic setting a contrast to the noisy, bustling workshops of artists in previous eras. Here, in addition to a chair surrounded by drapes, and an easel set up in readiness for a sitter, are oddities such as plaster casts, paint bladders, and an etching press, and even a mahogany studio cabinet, with a slate for mixing colours. A large and rather unsettling lay dummy nods to Gainsborough’s use of props and models; this was not limited to figures and he often painted from miniature landscapes, with broccoli florets standing in for trees.Though Gainsborough made his name as a portraitist, music and landscape were his great passions. Writing from Bath in the 1760s, he told a friend: “I’m sick of portraits and wish very much to take my viol da gamba and walk off to some sweet village where I can paint landskips [landscapes] and enjoy the fag end of life in quietness and ease.” This aspect of Gainsborough’s personal life is rather beautifully evoked in the music room, furnished with an exceedingly rare double manual harpsichord, a square piano and a viola da gamba. It’s easy to imagine convivial evenings spent with friends, among whom were Johann Christian Bach (son of JS Bach), the composer Joseph Gibbs, and the actor David Garrick, all of whom were painted by Gainsborough over the course of his career. A small but notable portrait of acquaintance Ignatius Sancho – composer, writer, abolitionist, and the first black British man to vote in Britain – is the focus of a temporary exhibition at the top of the house. Sancho was born on a slave ship, but in 1768, Gainsborough painted him as a gentleman, almost unheard of in the 18th century when Africans tended to be caricatured, or portrayed as servants. Based on Sancho’s published letters, illustrated with an engraving of Gainsborough’s portrait, the display tells a fascinating story, though it is frustratingly unrevealing of the artist’s own views on the slave trade. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Ignatius Sancho, unknown artist after Gainsborough, c. 1802-1820
C: National Portrait Gallery, London A plaster model of a horse, made by Gainsborough and reputed to be one of Constable’s most treasured possessions, is a mark of the esteem in which Constable, also from Suffolk, held the older artist.The display is more sentimental than instructive, and though it does not explore the specifics of Gainsborough’s influence on Constable, its selection of sketches, studio props, and paints evokes the similarities between the two men’s practice. A room dedicated to Cedric Morris (1889-1982), the founder of the idiosyncratic Suffolk art school Benton End, makes a case for the enduring influence of Gainsborough, as both a portraitist and landscape painter. Though Morris’s bold, often unmodulated blocks of colour are in contrast to Gainsborough’s portrait style, both offer their subjects an exotic flamboyance that makes them both personable and unknowable. There’s something of this in the figure of Thomas Gainsborough himself: despite being one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, his life and work are rarely understood as a coherent whole. Here, for the first time, the house he grew up in places his lifelong achievements within the Suffolk landscape that served as a backdrop to his life and career. Away from the city, the landscape holds his life’s work, and his continuing legacy, in balance.
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