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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Death of Gainsborough

Bury Post August 6th 1782

Death of Thomas Gainsborough

On Saturday morning last, about two o’clock, died, at his house in Pall Mall, Mr Gainsborough, the celebrated painter,--His dissolution was occasioned by a cancer in the neck; the effects of which became violent a sew months since, owing to a cold caught one morning in Westminster –hall, while attending the trial of Mr Hastings.

Mr Gainsborough a very few weeks since was in the vigour of his professional powers, he was just turned 61 years of age,--He was born at Sudbury, in this county, in the year 1727.

He very early discovered a propensity to painting;--Nature was his teacher, and the woods of Suffolk his academy, here he would pass in solitude his mornings, in making a sketch of an antiquated tree, a marshy brook, a few cattle, a shepherd and his flock, or any other accidental objects that were presented—From delineation, he got to colouring; and after painting several landscapes, from the age of ten to twelve, he quitted Sudbury in his 13th year, and went to London, where he commenced portrait painting; from that time he never cost his family the least expense—The person, at whose house he principally resided, was a silversmith of some taste; and from him he ever ready to confess he derived great assistance,--Mr Gavelot the engraver, was also his patron, and got him introduced at the Old Academy of Arts, in St Martins-Lane.—He continued to exercise his pencil in London for some years, but marrying Mrs Gainsborough while he was only 19 years of age, he soon took up after his residence in Ipswich; and after practicing there for a considerable period, went to Bath, where his friends intimated his merits would meet their proper reward.—His portrait of the Queen, the actor, which he painted at Bath about thirty years since, will ever be considered as a wonderful effort in the portrait line; it is with a degree of veneration that Mr Gainsborough always spoke of Mr Ralph Allen, Earl of Camden, and a sew other gentlemen for the patronage and savour they extended to him in that place.

The high reputation which followed, prompted him to return to London, where he arrived in the year 1744; after passing a short time in town not very profitably, his merits engaged the attention of the King. Among other portraits of the Royal family, the full length of His Majesty at the Queen’s house, will ever be viewed as an astonishing performance. From this period, Mr Gainsborough entered in a line which afforded a becoming reward to his superlative powers. All our living Princes and Princesses have been painted by him, the Duke of York excepted, of whom he had three pictures bespoken. And among his latter performances, the head of Mr Pitt, and several portraits of that gentleman’s family, afforded him gratification. His portraits will pass to futurity with a reputation equal to that which follows the pictures of Vandyke; and his landscapes will establish his name on the record of the sine arts, with honours such as never attended a native of this isle.

While we lament him as an artist, let us not pass over those virtues, which were an honour to human nature.—Let a tear be shed in affection for that generous heart, whose strongest propensities were to relieve the claims of poverty, wherever they appeared genuine.—Is he selected for the exercise of his pencil, an infant from a cottage, all the tenants of that humble roof, generally participated in the profits of that picture and some of them frequently sound in his habitation, a permanent abode.


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