Artist Thomas Gainsborough: biography and creativity
Thomas Gainsborough is an eighteenth-century English landscape painter and portrait painter. He is also known for his graphics. This painter won the “Battle of Artists” with another talent of his time - Joshua Reynolds, becoming the leading British portraitist of the second half of the eighteenth century. He painted quickly, and his mature works are characterized by a light palette and light strokes. It is known that the artist loved to paint landscapes, not portraits. He was one of the founders of the Royal Academy of Painting. Together with another artist - Richard Wilson - Gainsborough became the ancestor of the British landscape school.
Thomas Gainsborough: a biography. Childhood
We do not know the date of birth of the artist, only the day of his baptism is recorded, recorded in the parish book - the seventeenth of May 1727. He was born in Sedbury (Suffolk County). His father, John, sold cloth and articles of it. Mother called Suzanne. Thomas was the ninth child in the family.One of his brothers, Humphrey, was a mechanic and inventor. Childhood future artist spent in a place that is now called the House of Gainsborough. The original building has been preserved, and now there is a museum dedicated to creativity by the painter.
When Thomas Gainsborough was young, his father was very impressed with his son’s ability to draw. At the age of ten he already painted landscapes, molded animal figures and even created a miniature self-portrait. In 1740, he was allowed to go to London to study. His teacher was the famous engraver Hubert Gravlo, who worked at the Academy of St. Martin. There lived a boy in the capital at the silversmiths. Most of all he was interested in landscapes, made sketches of plants. The artist was fond of the works of William Hogarth and even copied his style. And in order to earn a living, support himself and pay for his studies, he had to paint more portraits, as well as restore old paintings. Together with Francis Heyman, Thomas helped decorate the London entertainment garden of Vauxhall Gardens.
Marriage and career start
In one of the first paintings, which the artist signed, the dog of the Bull Terrier breed is depicted against the background of the landscape. In 1745, Thomas Gainsborough opened his own workshop in London. There he settled.A year after the opening of the workshop, Thomas marries Margaret Barr, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke de Beaufort. But his landscapes did not sell very well. Therefore, the artist was forced to return to Sedbury. There he lived until 1749. He paints his favorite landscapes and starts practicing Watteau portraits. In 1748, the artist paints a picture called the Forest of Gainsborough. Then the father of Thomas dies and the first daughter is born. Parents called her Mary. Landscapes sold poorly, and Thomas is increasingly concentrating on portraits. These were orders from local merchants and squires. An example of such works can be called "Portrait of the couple Andrew." In 1750, the family moved to Ipswich. In 1752, the artist already has two daughters, he is still not rich, even gets into debt.
Period of life in Bath
In 1759, the Gainsborough family decided on a new move. They settle in Bath. This is a fashionable resort, where famous and rich people came. Two sisters of the master lived there. Fate is finally smiling artist. He is impressed with the portrait style of Dutch painters, especially Van Dyck, becoming a big fan of this artist and carefully studying his work. Much of the Van Dyck technique Thomas Gainsborough uses in the future.
The artist begins to earn good money, because it gains fame as the author of beautiful portraits. Titled to know with money gives him orders. There are so many of them that Thomas does not cope with the work, and in the end even falls ill from overstrain. A local newspaper mistakenly reports his death. In 1761, the painter begins sending his work to exhibitions at the Royal Society of Arts in London. To attract the attention of the public, he chooses portraits of famous and noble people.
In 1774, Gainsborough and his family moved to London. There he continues to paint portraits of famous people, and also experiments with the technique of engraving and the creation of etchings. The artist competes with the President of the Royal Academy Reynolds, in connection with which his relationship with the Society of Arts become strained. But since 1780 its influence has increased. The fact is that he paints a portrait of King George the Third and his family members, and then becomes the favorite artist of the reigning home. In the last years of his life the painter paints a lot of simple landscapes.
Friends and biographers claimed that the artist Thomas Gainsborough was an honest and sincere man.His letters to relatives are a model of a good literary style of the time, although he was not very fond of reading. On August 2, 1788, the painter died. They say that at last the artist said that he would go to heaven, in the company of Van Dyck. He was buried in the church of St. Anne in Kew (Surrey), where the royal family often went to pray.
Thomas Gainsborough: creativity, main features
It is known that the artist was closed and did not like to communicate. He didn’t even go too far beyond the places where he spent his childhood and youth. In his painting, he often refers to the theme of landscapes and the surrounding nature. And since portraits sold better, he invented innovation in this area. The artist often wrote his compositions depicting people against the backdrop of English landscapes. The harmony of color in his paintings perfectly combined with a kind of rhythm of works, which critics even called "musical." The already mentioned work “Sir Andrew and his wife” is a peculiar brush test in this area. The double portrait of the couple itself is very bright, but the accuracy of the image is underlined by the bucolic environment - the green of the grove, the yellowness of ripe wheat on the field. The picture was not finished, but nevertheless remained very significant in the work of Gainsborough.
At that time, academicism became the most fashionable artistic trend in Europe. But the painter did not follow him - he was too individual. He followed his intuition, his own sense of light and color. This is what made the real master of such an artist as Thomas Gainsborough. He wrote portraits in order to earn money, but this does not mean that he did not invest his soul in them. He often painted the same people as his rival Reynolds, and thus we can see the difference between these painters. For example, actress Sarah Siddons Gainsborough, unlike his opponent, depicted without any allegories and Roman decorations. She is dressed like in life, but at the same time emphasizes her taste, intellect, charm and beauty.
In other portraits painted by the artist, such as “Duchess de Beaufort”, “Lady in Blue”, “Morning Walk”, a very distinctive color is used, in which silver, gray, olive, pearl tones harmoniously combine. Thus, Gainsborough conveys the nobility of their models. Such colors often emphasize the whiteness and freshness of women's skin, and their skillfully cast strokes give people in the paintings grace and refinement.This is how “Blue Boy” was written, where the artist, on the one hand, develops the traditions of the aristocratic portrait, laid by Van Dyck, and on the other, he puts something intimate, musical, original into it.
English nature and its embodiment on canvas - that's how Thomas Gainsborough saw his calling. The works of this artist over time become more mature. If at first he concentrated attention on the social status of the portrait, then then landscapes began to occupy the main place in his paintings. From the background, they turn into a kind of aura in harmony with the mood or the essence of the person the artist paints.
A forest, a field, a grove or an old park - all this seems to give the portraits a special spirituality. This is especially evident in the work “Blue Boy”, where the surrounding nature, the sky, the evening landscape are in harmony with the melancholic mood of the young nobleman, his black hat, easy posture. But often the painter created landscapes for his own pleasure. Most of all he was attracted to rural bucoli. He wrote different types of nature - fields in front of suffering, mysterious forest edges, spring groves, beautifully maintained parks. The best of them are recognized as "Vodopoy" and "The Carriage Going to the Fair".
The artist also practiced original genre scenes in his work. These were also a kind of portrait and landscape composition that Thomas Gainsborough invented. Paintings "Morning Walk" or "Gathers of brushwood" different masterful composition, closeness and love of nature, the warmth and simplicity of relationships with each other. One of them depicts aristocrats, on the other - ordinary village children, but, despite the social situation, they all experience happiness from simple human joys, love animals and are ready to embrace the whole world. This shows how close the artist was to his contemporary English literature, with its ideas of enlightenment and sentimentalism.