Search

Why Gainsborough is a direct line to the roots of all my work.

We all surely must - regardless of personal taste, acknowledge Gainsborough's skill & of course, his passion for painting fine fabrics & the English landscape, if nothing more. The son of a silk merchant, he seemed to use his artistic abilities to bring justice from an early age. As a child, he apparently witnessed a man stealing pears straight from a neighbours tree & because of his execution of a sketch of the man, helped identify the thief. But leap forwards to adult Gainsborough & a much more conscious & subtle rebellion with injustice was trying to speak....


People forget so quickly the injustices that us regular folk had to get used to through history. Art is often there to remind us. I find myself often reminding people of the the Inclosures Act. The common land, off which many of the poor lived, began being fully closed off & by the 1780's the wealthy who claimed it put extreme penalties on hunting or foraging from it. Mr & Mrs Andrews, the subject of this Gainsborough painting, were a prime example of such an overfed wealth at this time. I always felt unsettled by their expressions, this isn't a pleasant painting & the answer to that it seems, is in the unfinished patch in Mrs Andrews lap, or rather, in Gainsborough's morals. People are not sure why it was unfinished & left with the family until so recently, especially when at the time a Gainsborough portrait was so sought after. He depicted them, it seems, as they truly were. An unpleasant example of the people inflicting the horrors of the inclosure acts, whilst sitting proudly boasting a thus unpainted pheasant or some such bird, (which they would not have caught themselves) Not only this, but it seems a direct reflection of the Dutch influences Gainsborough took inspiration from, often depicting women almost violently clutching a pun in the form of a bird. Mrs Andrews hasn't been out hunting, not in this fine gown, her husband has done that work & what viewers do not see, if how close to the site of the portrait their manor house is, she hasn't ventured far, to claim her prize cock. They likely threw a wobbler with Gainsborough, when they realised what he was saying about them with his brush.



7 views0 comments