This exhibition in the Upper Bow Room features an extensive collection of drawings by Hubert-François Gravelot from the Gainsborough’s House permanent collection. The majority of these works were produced as designs for prints, book illustrations, decorative arts and other forms of material culture.
Gravelot was a prolific draughtsman, who came to London from Paris in 1732, remaining in England until 1745. He became deeply involved in the burgeoning arts scene, joining some of the capital’s leading artists to establish the St. Martin’s Lane Academy in 1735. Under the leadership of William Hogarth, he played an important role at the Academy as a drawing master, teaching a number of pupils including Thomas Gainsborough.
Gravelot’s greatest legacy was his introduction of the ornamental style known as ‘Rococo’ into British art and design. Rococo art, by nature, was elaborate, playful, filled with delicate colours, and often witty. Many of Gravelot’s most successful designs encapsulate these essential characteristics. The Bow Porcelain plate illustrated here is no exception. It is decorated with a scene called ‘The Young Archers’ from a series of designs by Gravelot showing children playing various games in outdoor settings. Dating from c.1755, it is an extremely rare survival and one of the highlights of the exhibition.
Image: Bow Porcelain Plate, c.1755, decorated in red iron, after a design by Hubert-François Gravelot (1699-1773)
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was born in Sudbury and baptised at the Independent Meeting-House in Friars Street on 14 May 1727, the fifth son and ninth child of John and Mary Gainsborough. In 1958, Gainsborough’s House Society was formed to purchase the house and establish it as a centre for Thomas Gainsborough. The Museum opened to the public in 1961 and has remained open for over 50 years. The beautiful historic garden at the heart of Gainsborough’s House is maintained by a devoted body of volunteers, who garden exclusively with plants that were available in Gainsborough’s lifetime.
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