Gainsborough: Standing Up to the "Man"

Despite being the preferred painter of the Royal Family (because, come on, who in 18th century England didn't want to be immortalized with rosy, youthful cheeks?), Thomas Gainsborough lost the position of Royal Academy of Art president to rival, Joshua Reynolds for "political" reasons, furthering his artistic feud with the institution.  

Antithetical to the sparse, white walls of contemporary galleries, the Royal Academy inundated viewers with artwork squeezed in together.  The bottom of full-length portraits had to be in line with the tops of doorways making it impossible to see the complete painting without almost walking out of the room.  Artists (especially Reynolds) painted in bold colors and strong lines, dismissing subtlety for attention, but Gainsborough would not compromise his technique for showings. 

He held true to his paradoxical views on portraiture and landscape.  Unlike Reynolds, who idealized his aristocratic (i.e. well-paying) subjects on canvas, Gainsborough was steadfast in capturing what people really looked like.  At their best of course.  Like a make-up artist.  

Also popular in his day were awe-inspiring landscapes of noble lands, but Gainsborough would not relent to nature deciding the composition of a painting.  In what would've been an epic "fuck you" email to Lord Hardwicke, Gainsborough told a would-be patron to spend his money on landscapes of old masters instead of holding his breath for him to do one.  

Fortuitous home-buying, or the work of a savvy Restoration Realtor, brought Gainsborough's home and studio right by Christie's auction house (yes, that Christie's) and finally gave his work the probing, delicate attention it deserved.

Described as, "one of the most technically proficient and at the same time most experimental artists of his time," Gainsborough's truthful passion to art has set him as an icon of English culture.