Gainsborough's artistic style took time to diverge from others in the UK at that time. Initially, in the 1740s, he would follow a similar path to his fellow members of the St Martin's Lane group of painters. This collection of young artists also included Hogarth, Hayman and Highmore.
As his career progressed he would forge his own style, as did the other members of this group. He was famous for a fast application of paint and also relying on his observations by eye rather than just his technical academic training. This represents the movement towards Romanticism and the abstract artists of the 20th century.
A pure reliance on academic technique would lead to many artists appearing from a production line, so his own approach enabled Gainsborough to set himself apart. He also used lighter colours later in his career and regularly painted at night by candlelight. The art market was very competitive in England at this time, meaning the likes of Stubbs, Reynolds and Gainsborough were constantly demanding more from themselves.
The interest of Lionel de Rothschild, a prominent art collector, helped to draw attention to the artist's best work and also contributed to their rising value. Others would pick up on this and start to collect his work for themselves.
Although prefering his landscape work, portraits were a valuable source of income for Gainsborough through multiple royal commissions. This work helped to push his reputation above other members of the Royal Academy and as a result allowed his to command a certain level of influence in the organisation.
Artist Gainsborough would try to portray himself as a manic, entirely spontaneous artist, almost like an 18th century Pollock, Rothko or Picasso. In reality he was intelligent and considered, but with some flair added in for good measure. Many who met both Reynolds and Gainsborough would tend to find the latter more engaging and a star quality more apparent.
Many have considered Reynolds to be the learned, educated individual and Gainsborough quite the opposite. In reality Thomas was a follower of theatre and intellectual society in general. He also counted writers and actors amongst his closest circle of friends.
The most famous paintings from artist Gainsborough are listed below, with more information available on each on their respective pages. He took in different parts of England during his distinguished career, covering London, Suffolk and parts of the West Country. Gainsborough House has been set up in his honour and hosts some of his original artwork.