Posted: 21 December 2011 by Eleanor Mills RA Magazine
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) loved to paint the landscape: he would sketch the Suffolk countryside, the skies with their fluffy white cumulous clouds, and the cattle and farmhands in the fields. Gainsborough moved back to his birthplace of Sudbury in 1748 to begin his career after studying in London. But the artist soon found that he could not support himself by painting landscapes, so he moved to the nearby thriving port of Ipswich to paint portraits of wealthy clientele.
After seven years, the pool of subjects in Ipswich dried up, so he moved to Bath in the hope of finding more sitters. With the move, Gainsborough began drawing the landscape of western England around the city of Bath. The idealised landscapes that grew out of his sketches glow with warm light – perhaps evoking the city's golden Bath stone.
The Holburne Museum in Bath, featuring a new extension by architect Eric Parry RA. Photo credits: Cloud9leeds (left) Helene Binet (right)
The newly re-opened Holburne Museum in Bath is showing six of his Bath landscapes alongside his beautifully-loose pencil and charcoal sketches in 'Gainsborough's Landscapes: Themes and Variations'. This small but perfectly formed exhibition is on display in Eric Parry RA’s innovative new extension and concludes with Gainsborough’s poetic Romantic Landscape, c.1783, lent by the Royal Academy of Arts, famous to this day for its depiction of a totally romanticised English Landscape. From his humble beginnings, Gainsborough grew into one of the most famous landscape painters in British history and became a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts.
We spoke to the Director of the Holburne, Alexander Sturgis, about the exhibition and Eric Parry's new extension to the gallery:
Gainsborough's Landscapes is at the Holburne Museum until 22 January 2012; www.holburne.org