Growing Up

Artist Mats: Thomas Gainsborough

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When I set out to create Artist Mats for our Classical Conversations Cycle 2 year, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it! Although I have almost no artistic ability, I remain interested in the history of art, the techniques of art, and the stories of the artworks themselves. Each little alleyway in the study of a specific artist has had treasures untold!

In case this is your introduction to our Artist Mats, I will give you a brief description of the Artist Mats but there is more about the Artist Mats here). Artist Mats are intended to be used in community but are also perfect for at home unit study of specific artists. Each Artist Mat includes:

  • an extended biography of the artist
  • a timeline
  • portraits of the artists
  • quotes from the artists
  • eight selections from the artist’s catalogue
  • four “Art Terms to Know”, and
  • art study questions

Currently I have plans to make 6 sets of Artist Mats this year.

Thomas Gainsborough

The next artist in this year’s set of Artist Mats is Thomas Gainsborough. He is considered one of the most influential and accomplished painters from England. A founding member of the Royal Academy, he is worthy of intense and more extensive study.

Gainsborough, possibly because of his lack of formal training in painting, was highly experimental and innovative. He used special brushes, shifted his style of portraiture through intense study of artists he admired, and worked in new mediums. He always preferred landscapes, but he is best known for his portraits. Because of his quick work methods, he was rather prolific, creating over 600 portraits in his career.

Perhaps my favorite tidbit from my study is his innovative use of transparent paints on small glass panes. He created something approximating an 18th century ViewMaster for people to see these paintings. They are unique amongst the works of Gainsborough – something truly special. Here are a few of them along with the box he created for viewing them:

There are only 10 known surviving glass panes. All can be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum where they are put on display sometimes. For more information about how these interesting pieces were created and displayed, read this article.

Experiencing Thomas Gainsborough

Seeing some of Thomas Gainsborough’s works is much easier for our family than seeing Rembrandt’s works, as some of his paintings reside in semi-local museums. During my research, I discovered we are overdue for a trip to the Huntington to see Blue Boy (made all the more interesting because they are currently conducting Project Blue Boy in view of museum visitors). The Huntington also has some more Gainsborough portraits to see. Field trip!

Oh! You can also bring your very own Gainsborough into your home. It is a chalk drawing of the same oil portrait of “Lady Elizabeth Montagu, Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry.” I think it is for sale on this site, but it could be a recent sale. It is one of those fancy places where if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

Artist Mats

I am so pleased with the way the Artist Mats came together for Gainsborough. He is a worthy addition to your community or family art study.

The Artist Mats available are/will be:

If you have any more questions about the Artist Mats, I created a sort of FAQ at the bottom of this post.

I also created a sample for the Artist Mats which is available in our Subscriber Exclusive Library. You can sign up to get the Artist Mats sample and an growing list of resources for FREE here:

 

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