Thomas Gainsborough biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727, the son of John Gainsborough, a cloth merchant living in Sudbury, Suffolk. It was not long before the younger Gainsborough showed a marked talent for art, and at the tender age of 13 he was sent to London to study.
For the next 8 years Gainsborough studied in London under the engraver Gravelot. He also became familiar with the Flemish style of painting which was then very popular with art dealers.
In 1746 Gainsborough married Margaret Burr, widely held to be the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Bedford. Before he returned to Sudbury in 1748, Gainsborough produced his first well-known work, The Charterhouse.
Two years later he moved to Ipswich, where he had his first commercial success as a painter, completing many small portraits and two larger landscapes commissioned by the Duke of Bedford.
In 1759 the Gainsborough family was on the move once more, this time to the fashionable spa town of Bath, where high society congregated. It was in Bath that Gainsborough became truly popular as a portrait artist, concentrating on full-length, life-sized images.
In 1768 Gainsborough became one of the founders of the Royal Academy, though he later had a falling out with the organizers of the RA exhibits. After 1784 Gainsborough refused to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and instead, created his own showings at his London house in Pall Mall.
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