Thomas Gainsborough was an English portrait and landscape painter. He was the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and, in 1740, left home to study art in London. In 1746, he married Margaret Burr, and they became parents of two daughters. He moved to Bath in 1759 where fashionable society patronised him, and he began exhibiting in London. In 1769, he became a founding member of the Royal Academy, but his relationship with the organization was thorny and he sometimes withdrew his work from exhibition.
Gainsborough moved to London in 1774, and painted portraits of the king and queen, but the king was obliged to name as royal painter Gainsborough's rival Joshua Reynolds. In his last years, Gainsborough painted relatively simple landscapes and is credited (with Richard Wilson) as the originator of the 18th century British landscape school. Gainsborough died of cancer in 1788 and is interred at St. Anne's Church, Kew, Surrey.
He painted quickly and his later pictures are characterised by a light palette and easy strokes. He preferred landscapes to portraits. He was noted for the speed with which he applied paint, and he worked more from observations of nature (and of human nature) than from application of formal academic rules.
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