English painter of portraits, landscapes, and fancy pictures, one of the most individual geniuses in British art.
Thomas Gainsborough was born at Sudbury, Soffolk, and went to London in about 1740. He returned to Sudbury in 1748 and in 1752 he set up as a portrait painter in Ipswich. His patrons were the merchants of the town and the neighboring squires, but when in 1759 he moved to Bath, his new sitters were members of Society, and he developed a free and elegant mode of oil painting seen at its most characteristic in full-length portraits (Mary, Countess Howe, Kenwood House, London, c.1763-64).
In 1768 Thomas Gainsborough was elected a foundation member of the Royal Academy, and in 1774 he moved permanently to London. Here he further developed the personal style he had evolved at Bath, working with light and rapid brush-strokes and delicate and evanescent colors. Thomas Gainsborough became a favorite painter of the Royal Family, even though his rival Joshua Reynolds was appointed King's Principal Painter.
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