Believe it or not, but it was 225 years ago that 65 year-old English portrait and landscape artist, Sir Thomas Gainsborough died, on 2nd August, 1788. As the youngest son of a Suffolk weaver, John Gainsborough, Thomas was Christened on 14 May 1727.
In 1769, at the age of 42, he became a founding member of the Royal Academy, but his relationship with the organization was thorny and he often withdrew his work from exhibition. Gainsborough moved to London and by 1774, focused on portraiture including the then King and Queen of England. Unfortunately to Gainsborough’s disadvantage, the King was obliged to name as Royal painter, Gainsborough’s rival, Joshua Reynolds. One of his more famous works includes this piece, Portrait of Mrs. Graham; (see above) which is located at the National Gallery of London.
So, what has this got to do with the 60’s band The Kinks? Well, their 1971 album entitled ‘Muswell Hillbillies‘, contains the song “20th Century Man”. Apparently, Ray Davies lists Gainsborough as one of the painters he prefers to as: “your smart modern painters.” – Obviously, a “well-respected man“.