Gainsborough Road, TW9

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Thomas Gainsborough (May 1727 – August 2, 1788) was one of the most important British artists of the second half of the 18thCentury – probably second only to Sir Joshua Reynolds – and was a founding member of the Royal Academy. He was skilled in both portraiture and landscape painting and would often integrate the two. His talent was spotted at an early age but as a young artist he struggled to sell his landscapes. His move into portraiture made him more popular, and when he moved his family from Ipswich to Bath, he started to attract a fashionable and wealthy clientele. However, artistically he was bereft. He preferred landscapes. Following a move to London he began incorporating portraits and landscapes into his work, this combination was a masterstroke, and commissions rolled in. Gainsborough was a regular visitor to Kew, staying at his lifelong friend, the artist, architect, antiquarian, and Royal tutor, Joshua Kirby’s home on Kew Green by the Ferry Steps. As per his wishes, Gainsborough was buried in St Anne’s Church, Kew, near Kirby’s grave. The artist gave instructions to this effect and that ‘a stone without arms or ornament might be placed over him, inscribed with his bare name…’. These details were published in the press shortly after his death.


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