Murder in the Gainsborough family

September 26 2018

Image of Murder in the Gainsborough family

Picture: Private Collection, Gainsborough self-portrait, via TAN

New research has revealed that Thomas Gainsborough's uncle and cousin were almost certainly murdered when the artist was young. From Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper:

Two close members of Thomas Gainsborough’s family were murdered over a financial dispute, new research has revealed. The Art Newspaper has tracked down threatening letters sent in 1738, just before the separate murders took place. One of the warnings was directed at the artist’s cousin: “We will either shoot him or hang him up in gibbets, damn the… rogue’s arse.”

The main research on the artist’s youth and the murders has been conducted over four years by Mark Bills, the director of Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk, in preparation for an exhibition that is due to open there in October. His show focuses on the early years of Thomas Gainsborough, who was born in Sudbury in 1727, the son of a wool merchant, and who went on to become one of the leading painters of his time.

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