Abel is best remembered as a practitioner and composer of the viola de gamba (a bowed instrument similar to a cello). He was such a talented performer that after his death in 1787 The Morning Post reflected that the viola de gamba would ‘probably die with him.’ Through portraits, drawings and caricatures this exhibition explores the life and career of Abel and his close relationship with Thomas Gainsborough.
Central to the exhibition is the great portrait of Abel painted by Thomas Gainsborough, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Gainsborough was a great friend of Abel and he exchanged paintings and sketches with him, in return for music and instruments.
Gainsborough’s House Society , Charity No. 1170048 and Company Limited by Guarantee No. 10413978