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Thomas Gainsborough



Thomas Gainsborough<BR> Enlarge

The painting of The Blue Boy is perhaps one of the most well known works by Gainsborough (GAINZ burro). It is thought it is a picture of Jonathan Buttall, who was the son of a wealthy hardware merchant. It is painted with oil paints on a canvas and is quite large; 48 inches wide and 70 inches tall. He painted it over another painting he had already started to paint.

Thomas Gainsborough was born in England and began drawing when he was very young. He started taking lessons at the age of 13. It is said he once sketched a thief stealing from the Parson's garden so accurately, they recognized him as a man from the next village. The culprit was apprehended.

Gainsborough is noted for his portraits, but before he started doing portraits he was a painter of landscapes. He still included landscapes even in his portrait painting. In the painting on the left of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews the landscape is as equally important as the subjects. Evidently they are the landowners, but not the ones who work the land.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrews

The next picture, The Harvest Wagon was painted in 1767. Notice the use of light and dark colors in the picture and the depth perception. The picture almost looks 3-dimensional.

The Harvest Wagon

The following picture is Sarah Siddons who was a famous actress during that time. Gainsborough was one of the artists she commissioned to paint her portrait. It is said he had trouble getting her nose to look just right.

Sarah Siddons

He was a musician who played the viola. He once said, "I paint portraits to live, landscapes because I love them, and music because I can't leave it alone".

He brought objects into his studio to include in his landscapes. Once he used a head of broccoli as his model to represent woods in a background.

When he was nineteen years old he married a well-to-do woman named Margaret Burr. Her income helped him to get started as an artist.

He painted many pictures in his lifetime; more than 500 paintings. About 200 of these were paintings of people. He became wealthy because the rich people wanted him to paint pictures of their families. Gainsborough was noticed by King George III who asked him to paint the royal family even though Joshua Reynolds was the official court painter. This caused a rift between the two artists which was eventually healed before they died.

Near the end of his life he was bothered by a swelling in his neck which proved to be cancer which would cause his death. He settled his business, got his affairs in order and died on August 2, 1788.

This biography was written by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher.


Kostner, Thomas, and Lars Roper. 50 Artists You Should Know. New York: Prestel, 2006.

Wilder, Jesse Bryant. Art History for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007.

Nichols, John, and Samuel Bentley. Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century. London: Nichols, Son, and Bentley, 1815.
full view

Gerlings, Charlotte. 100 Great Artists, New York: Gramercy Books, 2006.

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View a slideshow about Thomas Gainsborough

Art Gallery Famous Paintings Volume 1

Art Gallery Famous Paintings Volume 2

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Research Links

Paintings by Gainsborough

Paintings by Gainsborough
at ABC Gallery

Gainsborough Biography
at Olga's Gallery

Paintings from the Huntington Art Gallery
includes The Blue Boy

Blue Boy
at Wikipedia

Information about Gainsborough
at Humanities Web

Blue Boy
see details

The Artchive
(scroll down the left column to find Gainsborough)

Paintings by Gainsborough
at Wikipedia

Gainsborough Biography and Prints
(Spanish version)




Order the following books from Amazon.

Thomas Gainsborough
by George Moss Brock-Arnold 1881 (full view)

by Sir Walter Armstrong 1854 (full view)

Thomas Gainsborough, A Record of His Life and Works
by N D'Anvers 1897 (full view)

Thomas Gainsborough
by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, Thomas Gainsborough 1903 (full view)

Thomas Gainsborough, His Life, Work, Friends, and Sitters
by William Biggs Boulton 1905 (full view)

Thomas Gainsborough
by Harry N. Abrams 2002 (review, no preview)

Thomas Gainsborough
by Martin Postle 2002 (review, no preview)

Pictures That Every Child Should Know
by Mary Schell Hoke Bacon 1908 (full view)

Credits and Solutions

Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin

Picture courtesy of The Artchive Patron Program

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We hav a painting or litho of BLUE BOY,It measures 21-1/2"x 15-1/4'. The ink is very thick. It is about 100-years old or older.It is in a glass and metalfram
Benny Dobrofsky
I have a picture of blue boy that has been a center. Of a lot of weird activity. Just curious if I'm the only one. It is an oil canvas painting that has a couple runs that looks. Like tears.
I have a picture of Blue Boy and Pinkie, are they worth anything?
I have a copy of "Blue Boy" by Gainborough- Is it worth anything? It's been in the family for many years
Mary Lou
Absoulutely truly amazing & gorgeous. Boy Blue by TG recaptures my childhood fantasies, as our painting in our living room.
Victoria Valencia Valle
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