Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

(Self-portrait, painted 1759)

English born Thomas Gainsborough was a successful landscape and portrait painter. At the age of fourteen, he went to London to study under the artist Hubert Gravelot. Despite the strictly realistic tendency of most painters of his time, and being relatively uninfluenced by the great masters of the Renaissance, Gainsborough incorporated his imagination into his work.This provided and distinctive and expressive quality to his paintings. For example, in his landscape paintings, instead of laboriously painting each leaf on a tree, he integrated his brushstroke as a medium to express the leaves. Although he found his great passion in painting landscapes, he made his living as an artist by painting portraits. Ironically enough, those portraits are the same that he is famous for today.
As I flipped through multiple aging books, his sketches caught my attention in a way the others did not. What really caught me was the sketchy, expressive lines that all came together in was that completely described and image.
Study for the portrait of a young girl

This sketch is one of the more messy works that Gainsborough did. It's more like a completed gesture exercise; comparable to the ones we completed for our first assignment drawings. You can also note the wide range of value that he utilized from black chalk.

Study of a lady

I was drawn to this sketch because elegant reality of it, despite its sketchy nature. Gainsborough's use of dark line is shown again here to provide the dark value in the hair, the figure's shadow and the folds of the dress. What also caught me were the highlights in the drawing. They reminded me of the subtractive work that we did in class last week.

Study of a lady

In this sketch, you can clearly see most of the marks he used to create areas of darker value. The style is very expressive, yet the lines are all controlled. The image looks complete he composed the figure in an visually interesting manner.

Grigson, Geoffrey. English Drawing: From Samuel Cooper to Gwen John. Norwich: Jarrold and Sons Ltd, 1955. Print.
"Thomas Gainsborough." Mark Harden's Artchive. Web. 07 Oct. 2009. .

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