Thomas Gainsborough (Ipswich)
Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727 in Sudbury, Suffolk. After attending Sudbury Grammar School, he went to work as an apprentice to engraver Hubert Gravelot in around 1740. Around this time, he was able to study Dutch seventeenth century landscapes.
In 1748, he returned to Sudbury but moved to Ipswich in 1752 for a period of seven years. He made a living by painting portraits of local professional people, political figures and sometimes landed gentry. Examples of these can be seen in the Ipswich collections, for example, Samuel Kilderbee and William Wollaston, shown below.
During the eighteenth century, many art collectors would have only been interested in landscape paintings as decorative pieces for above doorways or within overmantles. The landscapes that Gainsborough created were heavily influenced by the work of the Dutch masters.
The painting of ‘Holywells Park, Ipswich’, painted between 1748 to 1750, is Gainsborough’s only known landscape of Ipswich and it depicts the man-made reservoirs in the park. In total, there are now 15 oil paintings by Gainsborough in the collection. Gainsborough died in 1788.