The exhibition at the Holburn Museum brings together some of the best portraits of Thomas Gainsborough, creating a dialogue between leading actors, entrepreneurs, musicians, playwrights, artists, dancers and critics of the 1760s - 1780s. ExhibitionGainsborough and Theater explores themes of publicity, naturalism, stage skills and friendship.
The audience is represented with 37 exhibits, including 15 oil portraits, paper works and other items from public and private collections from all over the UK.
After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the theater became an increasingly popular pastime. In 1759, 32-year-old Gainsborough arrived in Bath, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. Having a reputation as a qualified portrait painter, he soon found a solid clientele among fashionable and wealthy visitors to the resort.
This move coincided with the rise of the social status of leading actors such as James Queen and David Garrick, whom he wrote. Friendship with these people opened many doors for the artist, both in Bath and later in London. They also allowed Gainsborough to study naturalism in a portrait when they and their contemporaries turned to a less deliberate way of playing on stage.