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Thomas Gainsborough

The Greatest British  Romantic Painter of the Rococo Era


Influences - Sir Anthony Van Dyck ,
RubensClassical Greek and  Baroque Art

"We are all going to heaven and Van Dyck is of the company."
- Gainsborough's Deathbed Quote

Cause of Death - Cancer,  Age 62

Thomas Gainsborough Paintings  (click to enlarge)

Thomas Gainsborough Biography

Thomas Gainsborough was born in the small village of Sudbury, Suffolk. His father dispatched him to London when he was just a lad of fourteen. Young Tom spent several years studying art with the eccentric Hayman, an English designer and portraitist. Gainsborough  was also tutored by an old curmudgeon named Gravelot. Gravelot was a well known French illustrator and engraver.

When he was 19 the young painter married a local heiress. The  newlyweds lived first in Ipswich and then in settled in the more refined Bath.  Gainsborough painted portraits of the nobility. His backgrounds were lush, beautiful landscapes to liven up his portraits.  The artist voraciously studied old masters such as   Rubens, and Van Dyck. He was influenced by their colors and compositions. Gainsborough was one of the first English artists who painted the scenic countryside for its own sake instead of just as a background for a portrait. He famously asserted "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 and enjoy the fag End of Life in quietness and ease."

. Gainsborough loved old bridges, winding roadways, gnarled oaks, cattle grazing, and all the diverse beauties of quiet country life.  He educated the collector, and educated the people into a closer observation and study of nature. Gainsborough stood at the crossways of progress and pointed the way.

In 1768  Gainsborough stormed out of the prestigious Royal Academy, a group he had helped found. The artist was outraged over the way his paintings were being exhibited by the group. He stipulate that his painting be hung in a superior space. 

Famous Rococo Painters

Listed Alphabetically

Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787)  Italian, Rococo
Bernardo Bellotto (1720 - 1780) Italian, Rococo
François Boucher (1703 - 1770) French, Rococo
Canaletto (1697 - 1768) Italian, Rococo
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806) French, Rococo
Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788) English, Rococo
Francisco Goya (1746 - 1828) Spanish, Rococo
Thomas Hudson (1701-1779) English, Rococo
Jean-Marc Nattier (1685 - 1766) French, Rococo
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) English, Rococo
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 - 1721) French, Rococo

Key Descriptive Words and Phrases associated with the Rococo  Movement -   Late Baroque, tapestry, Charlottenburg Palace, Versailles, 18th century, France, colloquialism, Louis XV's reign, frills, powdered wigs, masks, whimsy, garish makeup, men in high heels, cherubs, elaborate recipes, pre-revolution,  rediscovery of the classical world, Château de Chantilly, melodramatic, decorative,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world,  pastel colors,  romanticized landscapes, courtship themed paintings


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