The townhouse where artist Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727 has been converted into a museum and art gallery. This atmospheric old home now displays a large collection of his paintings, drawings and prints as well as hosting temporary exhibitions which relate to Gainsborough and his era.
The house itself dates from around 1500 although the façade is Georgian. Outside, the walled garden includes a 400-year-old mulberry tree and is used for summer sculpture exhibitions and printing courses. Thomas Gainsborough’s parents, John and Mary Gainsborough, probably moved here in 1722 and Thomas was born five years later.
Inside, there’s a chance to discover more about the Gainsborough family with information boards and portraits of the artist’s cousins, wife and descendants. Visitors can imagine the artist at his large mahogany studio cabinet specially adapted to mix and store paints. The cabinet has a marble slab under the lid for grinding paint slabs into powder and a wide drawer beneath to hold large sheets of paper.
The various rooms of the house display paintings and artefacts from the different stages of Gainsborough’s life. The young artist first stayed in London with the artistic community around the St Martin’s Lane Academy, including Hogarth and Hayman. He returned to Suffolk in 1749, painting local sitters and landscapes. In 1759, Gainsborough moved to the fashionable spa town of Bath where he became famous for his society portraits and grand landscapes. In his later career in London, he helped establish the Royal Academy in 1768, and developed new, more dramatic landscape subjects.
Gainsborough House, 46 Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2EU.
Tel: 01787 372 958. www.gainsborough.org