Gainsborough’s Lyrical Style

English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) endowed history with lyric faces, knowing precisely the style of elegance his sitters required. His technique was vivid, spontaneous and his use of colour passionate. He always talked of colour in musical terms; harmonies, rhythms and so forth. His beautiful likeness of the Hon Mrs Graham is still very popular. The crinkled folds of her dress are like lovely notes of music blending harmoniously together. Her husband hoping to find a cure for his wife’s consumption took her to the south of France. He had to return because war was declared and when passing through a military blockade soldiers, suspicious that he was smuggling gold in her coffin forced him to open it. The shock of seeing her corpse was so great on his arrival home he ordered all likenesses of her placed in storage and he never looked at them again.

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