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08 January 2020Thomas Gainsborough - Portraits in a Landscape
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Thomas Gainsborough - Portraits in a Landscape Sarah Stopford Wednesday 08 January 2020

Gainsborough matched his conviction that painting should be about sensation and direct experience of the visual world with an acute awareness of the character of his sitters who inhabited that world.  In the process of recording their humanity he liked to mask the context of clients “sitting” for a portrait and set them instead out walking in invented romantic landscapes.  He associated landscape painting with ease and tranquillity and in his final years claimed “I am sick of portraits and wish very much to take my Viol da Gamba (cello) and walk off to some sweet village where I can paint landscapes and enjoy the fag end of life in quietness and ease”.

Sarah Stopford is a guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern.  Studied art history as part of her first degree at Harvard.  After a further degree in English at Cambridge and a career as a teacher of English literature in both the United States and England, she has returned to the world of art history where her special interests are in British and post-1900 art as well as the connections between literature and the visual arts.