Exhibition | Gainsborough’s Pink Boy Conserved

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 17, 2022

Opening this spring at Waddesdon:

Thomas Gainsborough: The Pink Boy Conserved
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, opening spring 2022

The Morning Room at Waddesdon Manor, with Thomas Gainsborough’s 1782 Portrait of Francis Nicholls (‘Pink Boy’), before cleaning.

Thomas Gainsborough’s Pink Boy, one of the most popular paintings at Waddesdon, is being cleaned this winter. A special display will reveal it anew, freed from a discoloured varnish, alongside three other Waddesdon Gainsboroughs that depict boys in so-called ‘Vandyke’ dress.

The Pink Boy is a more youthful counterpart of the famous Blue Boy (on exceptional loan to the National Gallery on London, 25 January – 15 May 2022 from the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California). Like him, Pink Boy wears an 18th-century fancy-dress version of 17th-century clothes. The Pink Boy is as much a showpiece of Gainsborough’s skill, demonstrating its relationship to the art of the past and to modernity, as it is a portrait of the particular sitter, Master Francis Nicholls.

Portraits of Lord Alexander Douglas-Hamilton and Lord Archibald Hamilton demonstrate how Gainsborough used different types of ‘Vandyke’ costume and contrasting painting techniques to differentiate the relative rank and age of two aristocratic brothers. The portrait of the artist’s nephew and pupil Gainsborough Dupont is among his most intimate and scintillating works, conjuring the teenager’s individuality and inner consciousness as much as the shimmer of light on silk.

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