Gainsborough, A Story of a Painter and an Era To be able to appraise the originality of eighteenth century English art, one must recognize its importance in history. A great painter to research is Thomas Gainsborough. His artwork was an important aspect of the art community of the middle seventeen hundreds. His paintings seem to bring brightness and color to a period in art that needed his creative boost. His combination of portrait paintings along with beautiful landscapes was not recognized in his time, but would be recognized as remarkable later in history. Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727 in the town of Sudbury in Suffolk (Internet 1).
He grew up as the son of a woodworking father and his mother was a teacher. He had 7 brothers and sisters, with whom he attended school until he was thirteen. He traveled to London and worked for a Silversmith. While there he saw many painters, he enjoyed it and began painting himself. It was impressive that he began painting without any formal academic lessons (Woodall 11). In spite of that his work was very astonishing and he published his first sketches in 1747.
He was greatly influenced by the great painter Sir Anthony Van Dyck before he decided that it was time Jason Lucier English 105 12/13/99 for him to leave the silversmith's shop (Internet 2). He married and had two daughters, his love for painting continued on. His love for painting landscapes brought great paintings, but these were not popular enough to earn a living. He had to paint portraits to keep an income. Gainsborough's combination of both portrait style painting and landscape painting was to give him a large contribution to his era of painters. Up until this point in time, paintings were usually face shots or occasionally full body shots.
Gainsborough set out to change this. Paintings and sketches we most often completed indoors with a very simple background or i most cases no background at all. This did not interest Gainsborough; he enjoyed being able to paint subjects' outdoors (Internet 4). He was fond of drawing trees grass and other objects that would not be found in an indoor studio.
He was not the first to draw backgrounds in his paintings; many have done this before him. His task was to paint a background that was just as important as the subjects do but not distract either. By painting outdoors, his paintings became much more colorful that most paintings of the past (Woodall 32). Brighter paintings were much improvement over the paintings of the past.
They were very eye appealing and much more noticeable. Gainsborough's untrained painter's eye did Jason Lusignan English 105 12/13/99 not effect the outcome of his paintings; he was painting from his heart. He painted whatever his eyes saw; in most cases the outcome of his paintings were a perfect mix of background and foreground. People began to start noticing his artwork even though he did not have a degree or formal education in art; this was very promising to the young painter.
His work slowly moved up into the great artwork of the city. His name was becoming known all around. He can begin his career with the bright colors he added to the scenery of the painting. One superb example of where the colors and scenery effected a painting is in the painting "Mr. and Mrs. Andrews." In my first examination of the painting, many questions were brought up.
One question brought up was when I was staring at the painting was how I noticed the many colors used. While examining other paintings in this time frame I have usually seen only dark colors, such as blacks and grays. The colors that are used are dull and lackluster. Now coming back to examine Gainsborough's works it is astonishing to see how much bright, joyful color adds to a painting. The culture and style of the era was changing, more colorful clothing, especially the clothing of women. This is the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment and many changes will take place in this generation (Internet 5).
Jason Lusignan English 105 12/13/99 The painting, "Mr. and Mrs. Andrews," was painted in 1750, a great time for improvement in England. Gainsborough was at the pinnacle of his success; hundreds of different people were seeing examples of his work every day. His work was fantastic; his paintings showed a new class and style. The bright colors of his painting were the first thing to catch my eye when I examined the painting.
These colors seemed to show how the aura about the painting was much happier because of its brilliance. The happiness that it begins to show is just one example of why I think the mood of the scene is very cheery. Although they subjects do not have giant smiles on their faces, they seem happy for other reasons. By reading into the history of this painting, I've found that these two people are married. In fact they have just recently married and they are beginning a farm and family of their own (Woodall 32). Notice the colors in the painting, the woman's dress is a light blue color.
It makes a really nice match with the blues in the sky. Accurate flesh tones and good matches to the rest of the land and scenery made Gainsborough one of the premier painters in the middle of the seventeen hundreds. Along with the use of many colors the picture says many other things about the time in history, including clothing, weaponry, and even farming techniques. Upon re-examining the Jason Lusignan English 105 12/13/99 painting all of these things can be determined. This is very unusual for paintings of this time. What they say is true; pictures can say a thousand words.
One thing that jumps out of the painting is the subjects' clothing. The clothing is very typical of what Europeans; especially those of England would have worn. The only interesting thing is what the woman is wearing. It is not the normal everyday wear, but more of her best dress. His clothing is what a man would typically wear to either work on the farm or do his hunting.
In either case the painting is showing very accurate examples if eighteenth century fashion (Woodall 32). I came across the deal with fashion and clothing in my first conversation with the painting. She had mentioned something about using the money from the crops to buy clothing. That is how many families of the 1750's made it through the winter. Any profit that was made from farming or other businesses was used to buy clothing and other necessities for the winter. An accurate depiction of life was found by only glancing at the painting.
After admiring the female in the painting, the male comes into the picture. He is dressed nicely and looks prepared for a hunt. He is wearing a nice hat that is also typical of the time as seen in many other paintings of the time. What comes Jason Lusignan English 105 12/13/99 to my attention is his gun it is a precise illustration of a gun that a middle class male would own.
It is a long barreled musket and would be seen in many battles or wars (Internet 6). He is not quite a rugged man this just goes to show that he hasn't been farming all that long. In years ahead his hard work will build his muscles up. Overall he appears to be the perfect gentleman and with his trusty dog, he should be able to kill the amount of animals his family will need for food.
This was also brought up in my conversation with the painting. I had mentioned how she seemed to be holding something in her lap, possible dead game. This fact isn't actually proven because the painting was not completed. The last bit of historical data that I noticed is the painting was the cut hay in the landscape. This is a very good example of how farmers completed their farm duties.
The hay was cut and left to dry, it then had to be tied together by hand. This is much different than how farmers in the twentieth century have machines to complete the work. Farm work was not an easy living. Many people did it and it created a large amount of money for the commercial farmer (Internet 3). The study of paintings can easily show facts about the history behind it. I believe that a fairly accurate depiction of the story of the people in the painting.
Although an Jason Lusignan English 105 12/13/99 entirely correct result is not always given due to many different reasons, reading a painting is not as difficult as it may seem. In this specific example of art, an almost perfect depiction of eighteenth century life is achieved. At first sight a painting may seem confusing, but with just a little conversation with it should have all the details figured out. Art is History. Bibliography Sources Woodall, Mary. Gainsborough.
London: Phoenix House Limited, 1949. Internet sources 1 web 8 December, 1999. 12 December, 1999. 2 web 8 December, 1999.
12 December, 1999. 3 web 8 December, 1999. 12 December, 1999. 4 web 8 December, 1999.
12 December, 1999. 5 web 8 December, 1999. 12 December, 1999. 6 web 8 December, 1999. 12 December, 1999.