Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough
Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough
Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough

Portrait of Francis Bennett by Thomas Gainsborough

  • This rare portrait was composed by renowned British painter Thomas Gainsborough
  • He renders his subject, the prosperous merchant Francis Bennett, with a bold elegance
  • The piece exhibits the calm dignity and lush colors of Gainsborough's finest works
  • Alongside Sir Joshua Reynold, Gainsborough was the leading portrait painter of his era
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Item No. 29-4019
$148,500
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description
Thomas Gainsborough
1727–1788 | English

Portrait of Francis Bennett (1712-1790)

Oil on canvas

This exceptionally rare portrait was composed by renowned British painter Thomas Gainsborough, one of the most recognizable names in 18th-century art. The portrait was painted in Bath in 1766, during one of the most significant artistic periods of Gainsborough's career. Just three years later in 1769, he would be invited to become a foundation member of the Royal Academy, one of the highest honors a British painter could achieve. With its fluidity of line and boldness of color, Portrait of Francis Bennett (1712-1790) reveals the artist's shift away from the more realistic style of his early output towards the elegant grandeur that characterizes his later oeuvre.

Francis Bennett, like Gainsborough himself, was one of those who prospered thanks to the huge expansion of Bath as a spa town in the 18th century. Born in Bath in 1712, he established himself as a linen and wool draper who counted the elite of the town - including Gainsborough himself - among his clientele. A slightly earlier portrait of Bennett in a blue waistcoat was formerly in the collection of the late Viscount Cowdray at Cowdray Park.

Born in 1727 in Suffolk, Gainsborough was the leading portrait painter alongside Sir Joshua Reynold - his main rival - in the 18th century. Though he originally set up his studio in Ipswich in 1952, he later moved to the thriving seaside resort town of Bath, where he achieved considerable success. A favorite of the aristocracy as a portrait painter, Gainsborough was equally at home painting landscapes and pastoral idylls, presenting nobility, the working class, and nature with the same unaffected sympathy. Gainsborough’s ability to capture his subjects’ personality, to imbue them with an emotive poetry, set him apart from his contemporaries.

This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the portraits of Thomas Gainsborough currently being prepared by Dr. Hugh Belsey.

Circa 1766

Canvas: 30 1/8” high x 25” wide
Frame: 36 3/4” high x 32” wide

Exhibited:
French Gallery, 1913, no. 17
Galerie D Heinemann, Munich, 1918 and 1928

References:
Gainsborough and his place in English Art, 1904, by W. Armstrong, p. 258.

Provenance:
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, by 1899
Jointly owned by Agnew’s and Wallis & Son, 1903
Agnew’s half share sold to Wallis & Son on June 2, 1910
Galerie D Heinemann, Munich, 1918 and 1928
Private collection, Amsterdam, 1995-2005
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, 2009
Private collection, Los Angeles, 2012
M.S. Rau Antiques, New Orleans, 2016
specifications
Artist: Gainsborough, Thomas
Framed:32.0"W x 36.75"H
Unframed:25"W x 30 1/8"H
Period: 1700-1815
Origin:England
Subject:Portrait
Depth:3.0 Inches
Width:32.0 Inches
Height:36.75 Inches
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