The Blue Boy

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Dr. Reza Kibria

Editor’s Choice: A Selection of Important Works of Art

This section introduces readers to a selection of great works of art, primarily paintings of the Western World. The works chosen include some personal favourites, others which are well-known or influential in some way and yet others representative of a particular school of art. The impact of a work of art is of course many times greater when the original is seen. If possible readers should try to visit the galleries and museums housing these priceless treasures

“The Blue Boy”, Thomas Gainsborough, 1770, oil on canvas, 178x122 cm, Huntington Art Collections, San Marino CA, USA

One of the greatest of British painters, Thomas Gainsborough’s portraits and landscapes remain popular in print reproductions. The Blue Boy was first exhibited at the Royal Academy (which began exhibiting paintings in 1769) and cemented Gainsborough’s position as an artist of the first rank. This work displays all the flamboyance and elegance that marked his great portraits. Unlike most artists of the day, who preferred a smooth detailed finish, Gainsborough preferred rougher swirling brushstrokes, insisting that his works ought to be viewed from a distance. This painting is often paired with Pinkie (Thomas Lawrence – see Week 3), which stands opposite to it at the Huntington gallery.