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Thomas Gainsborough

1727 - 1788

Born in 1727 to of John Gainsborough, a cloth merchant living in Sudbury, Suffolk Thomas Gainsborough soon began to show a marked talent for painting. At the age of 13 he went to London to study and for the next 8 years studied under the engraver Gravelot. Gainsborough also became familiar with the Flemish style of painting which was then very popular.

Gainsborough married Margaret Burr in 1746. She was widely held to be the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Bedford. Before returning to Sudbury in 1748, Gainsborough produced his first well-known work, The Charterhouse. Two years later Gainsborough 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 Gainsborough moved to the fashionable spa town of Bath, where high society congregated. It was here in Bath that Thomas 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.

Before his death in 1788, Gainsborough moved from painting portraits to painting landscapes.

Some of Gainsborough's most popular paintings include "The Blue Boy", "The Market Cart", "The Wood Gatherers" and "Robert Andrews and Mary, His Wife".