Henri Toulouse Lautrec

Post impressionist French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa Sadly passed away 9 September 1901 at the age of 36 from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis. He was born 24 November 1864. Henri’s parents, the Comte and Comtesse, were first cousins (Henri’s two grandmothers were sisters) and unfortunately Henri suffered from congenital health conditions sometimes attributed to a family history of inbreeding. At the age of 13 Henri fractured his right thigh bone and, at 14, the left. The breaks did not heal properly. Modern physicians attribute this to an unknown genetic disorder, possibly pycnodysostosis (also sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome), or a variant disorder along the lines of osteopetrosis, achondroplasia, or osteogenesis imperfecta. Rickets aggravated with praecox virilism has also been suggested. His legs ceased to grow, so that as an adult he was extremely short. He had developed an adult-sized torso, while retaining his child-sized legs. He is reported to have had hypertrophied genitals.

Physically unable to participate in many activities Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in art. He became an important Post-Impressionistpainter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, and recorded in his works many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec contributed a number of illustrations to the magazine Le Rire during the mid-1890s.After failing college entrance exams, Henri passed at his second attempt and completed his studies. During a stay in Nice his progress in painting and drawing impressed Princeteau, who persuaded his parents to let him return to Paris and study under the acclaimed portrait painter Léon Bonnat. Henri’s mother had high ambitions and, with the aim of Henri becoming a fashionable and respected painter, used the family influence to get him into Bonnat’s studio.Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to Montmartre, the area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers. Studying with Bonnat placed Henri in the heart of Montmartre, an area he rarely left over the next 20 years.

After Bonnat took a new job, Henri moved to the studio of Fernand Cormon in 1882 and studied for a further five years and established the group of friends he kept for the rest of his life. At this time he met Émile Bernard and Van Gogh. Cormon, whose instruction was more relaxed than Bonnat’s, allowed his pupils to roam Paris, looking for subjects to paint. In this period Toulouse-Lautrec had his first encounter with a prostitute (reputedly sponsored by his friends), which led him to paint his first painting of prostitutes in Montmartre, a woman rumoured to be called Marie-Charlotte.La Toilette. in 1887 he participated in an exposition in Toulouse using the pseudonym “Tréclau”, an anagram of the family name ‘Lautrec’. He later exhibited in Paris with Van Gogh and Louis Anquetin. The Belgian critic Octave Maus invited him to present eleven pieces at the Vingt (the Twenties) exhibition in Brussels in February. Vincent van Gogh’s brother, Theo bought ‘Poudre de Riz’ (Rice Powder) for 150 francs for the Goupil & Ciegallery.

From 1889 until 1894, Henri took part in the “Independent Artists’ Salon” on a regular basis. He made several landscapes of Montmartre, painting a series of pleasant plein-air paintings of Carmen Gaudin, the red-head model who appears in The Laundress (1888) in the garden of Monsieur Pere Foret.Toulouse-Lautrec was also commissioned to produce a series of posters for the Moulin Rouge. Other artists looked down on the work, but Henri was so aristocratic he did not care. The cabaret reserved a seat for him and displayed his paintings. Among the well-known works that he painted for the Moulin Rouge and other Parisian nightclubs are depictions of the singer Yvette Guilbert; the dancer Louise Weber, known as the outrageousLa Goulue (“The Glutton”), who created the “French Can-Can”; and the much more subtle dancer Jane Avrill. Toulouse-Lautrec also travelled to London. Making posters in London led him to making the ‘Confetti’ poster, and the bicycle advert ‘La Chaîne Simpson’.While in London he met and befriended Oscar Wilde. When Wilde faced imprisonment in Britain, Henri was a very vocal supporter of Wilde. Toulouse-Lautrec’s portrait of Wilde was painted the same year as Wilde’s trial.

Throughout his career, Toulouse-Lautrec created 737 canvases, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings, some ceramic and stained glass work, and an unknown number of lost works. His debt to the Impressionists, in particular the more figurative painters Manet and Degas, is apparent. His style was influenced by the classical Japanese woodprints which became popular in art circles in Paris. In his works can be seen parallels to Manet’s detached barmaid at A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and the behind-the-scenes ballet dancers of Degas. He excelled at capturing people in their working environment, with the colour and the movement of the gaudy night-life present but the glamour stripped away. He was masterly at capturing crowd scenes in which the figures are highly individualized. At the time that they were painted, the individual figures in his larger paintings could be identified by silhouette alone, and the names of many of these characters have been recorded. His treatment of his subject matter, whether as portraits, scenes of Parisian night-life, or intimate studies, has been described as both sympathetic and dispassionate.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting style is highly linear and gives great emphasis to contour. He often applied the paint in long, thin brushstrokes which would often leave much of the board on which they are painted showing through. Many of his works may best be described as drawings in coloured paint. Due to his illness Lautrec was rather short and was mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, which led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol.At first this was beer and wine, but his tastes expanded. He was one of the notable Parisians who enjoyed American-style cocktails, France being a nation of wine purists. He had parties at his house on Friday nights and forced his guests to try them. The invention of the cocktail “Earthquake” or Tremblement de Terre is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec: a potent mixture containing half absinthe and half cognac (in a wine goblet, 3 parts Absinthe and 3 parts Cognac, sometimes served with ice cubes or shaken in a cocktail shaker filled with ice).In 1893 Lautrec’s alcoholism began to take its toll, and as those around him realized the seriousness of his condition there were rumours of a syphilis infection. In 1899 his mother and some concerned friends had him briefly institutionalised. He even had a cane that hid alcohol so that a drink was always available.

. His immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 1800s yielded a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec – along with Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin – is among the most well-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period. In a 2005 auction at Christie’s auction house, a new record was set when La blanchisseuse, an early painting of a young laundress, sold for $22.4 million U.S. Toulouse Lautrec was placed in a sanatorium shortly before his death and died at the family estate in Malromé He is buried in Verdelais, Gironde, a few kilometres from the Château Malromé, where he died. After His death, his mother, the Comtesse Adèle Toulouse-Lautrec, and Maurice Joyant, his art dealer, promoted his art. His mother contributed funds for a museum to be created in Albi, his birthplace, to house his works. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum owns the world’s largest collection of works by the painter.

Roger Dean

Known primarily for the dreamy, other-worldly fantasy scenes created for various bands including Yes, Asia and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, the English fantasy artist, designer, and publisher William Roger Dean was born on 31 August 1944 in Ashford, Kent. His mother studied dress design at Canterbury School of Art before her marriage and his father was an engineer in the British Army. He has three siblings, brother Martyn and sisters Penny and Philippa. Much of Dean’s childhood was spent in Greece, Cyprus, and, from age 12 to 15, Hong Kong, so his father could carry out army duties. Dean was very keen on natural history as a child, and Chinese landscape art and feng shui became particular influences on him during his time in Hong Kong. He has cited landscape, “and the pathways through it”, as his greatest influence and source of inspiration for his exotic, fantasy landscapes.

In 1959, the family returned to England, Dean attended Ashford Grammar School followed by his entry in 1961 to Canterbury School of Art studying silversmithing and furniture design and graduated with a National Diploma in Design. He also began studying industrial design. As the school was trying to become accredited in the subject, Dean bypassed its foundation level course but disliked the way the subject was taught and questioned the teachers as to why people had to live in “boxes” and their response in that “form follows function”. in 1965 Dean enrolled at the Royal College of Art in London. to study furniture design and became a student of Professor David Pye. Among his research was the “psychology of architecture” and what made people feel comfortable in buildings.He did a thesis about “producing a sense of tranquillity in domestic architecture”. He graduated from the college in 1968 with a masters with first degree honours, and won a silver medal for “work of special distinction”. He was inspired Rick Griffin’s artwork for Aoxomoxoa (1969) by The Grateful Dead as his “first big visual shock” and bought the album prior to owning a record player.

Among Dean’s first successes was his sea urchin chair which compresses and fully adapts to the shape and size of the user. This was inspired by research at the Royal College is a predecessor to the bean bag. Dean was one of the few students picked from the Royal College to design and make objects in famed designer Cherrill Scheer’s factory. The chair remains one of Cherrill’s favourite pieces. It is now a part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1968, during his third year at the Royal College, Dean helped design a contemporary landscape seating area at the upstairs disco at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho. This led to the design of his first album cover, The Gun (1968) by rock band The Gun for which owner Ronnie Scott asked him to adapt a demonic-themed design that Dean originally made in his sketchbook for his thesis, for the album’s cover. He then decided to start producing album cover art design. He first began producing covers for various jazz artists for Vertigo Records. Dean also wanted to publish a book on architecture.

In 1970 Dean designed the logo to the independent label Fly Records and also worked on artwork for Marc Bolan. This involved typesetting the liner notes and lyrics by hand with the assistance of a graphic designer. Following this Dean also began handwriting the text for further Bolan singles. Dean also completed a design for Clear Blue Sky (1970) by Clear Blue Sky, involving a painting without typesetting.Following this Dean produced more handwriting, logo, and graphic work for rock bands. He also held a small exhibition of his work in Florence. Dean did the artwork for the cover of Osibisa (1971) by Afro-pop band Osibisa which Dean described as “credible African fairytale imagery” and features “flying elephants”. This was turned into a popular poster by the Big ‘O’ poster company.

Dean sent a portfolio to numerous executives including Phil Carson, the European General Manager of Atlantic Records who decided to use Dean’s artwork for rock acts like, Led Zeppelin and Yes, and hired Dean for the cover of Yes’s fourth album, Fragile. This features a planet which is breaking up, so the inhabitants build a space ark to find another planet to live on while towing the remains of the planet with them”. In 1972, he designed the band’s logo which he came up with during a journey on the Brighton Belle train. Yes guitarist Steve Howe stated, “There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger’s art”. Dean also contributed to Martyn Dean’s stage set designs for the band. During his work for Yessongs (1973), Dean and his printers Tinsley Robor secured a patent for “a way of going from gatefold to any number of pages, folded out of one piece of card” For Yes’s album Relayer (1974), he painted the sleeve in pencil and coloured it with dirty water. Characteristic landscapes show graceful stone arches or floating islands, while many paintings portray organic-seeming habitats, with ornate calligraphic work, logos and titles to go with his paintings.

Dean had an idea for Living in the Third Millennium, a television show about the designs of the future. In 1981, Dean and his brother Martyn had their collaborative design, the Tectonic House, a futuristic and economic home built to last, displayed at the annual International Ideal Home Exhibition in Birmingham. The idea spawned from two ideas: Dean’s earlier designs for a bed and bedroom intended for the safety of children, and Martyn’s “retreat pod” from 1970 that was featured in the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. Dean also collaborated with comic artist Michael Kaluta for the video game The Black Onyx by Henk Rogers for which they produced an estimated 4,000 drawings including ideas for animation, story, music, and motion capture.

In 1985 Dean created cover artwork for some Psygnosis games, including Shadow of the Beast and Obliterator and did the cover art for Tetris Worlds as well as a redesign of the Tetris logo. In 2002 Dean received an honorary doctorate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and received an honorary fellowship from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2009. In 2004, Dean started his “Homes for Life” architectural idea, designing affordable futuristic homes that can be mass produced in factories and customised to the user’s tastes. The design is curved based and without right angles. In 2013, Dean filed a legal action in U.S. District Court New York claiming that film director James Cameron was inspired by 14 of his original images in the making the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar. Dean sought damages of $50m. The filmmakers admitted in court to being influenced by the artist’s work, and Dean’s case was dismissed in 2014. In 2013, Dean received a Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul

I have also painted The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii) using Verexan paint-by-numbers. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque Is located in Istanbul, Turkey and is a popular tourist site, which continues to function as a mosque today. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, another popular tourist site.

It was built After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the crushing loss in the 1603–18 war with Persia, when Sultan Ahmet I decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to reassert Ottoman power. It would be the first imperial mosque for more than forty years. While his predecessors had paid for their mosques with the spoils of war, Ahmet I procured funds from the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories. The construction was started in 1609 and not completed until 1617.

The mosque was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, in front of the basilica Hagia Sophia (at that time, the primary imperial mosque in Istanbul) and the hippodrome, a site of significant symbolic meaning as it dominated the city skyline from the south. This caused the anger of the ulama, the Muslim jurists as Large parts of the south shore of the mosque rest on the foundations, the vaults of the old Grand Palace.

More Artwork

It has recently been suggested that there may be too much text and not enough pictures, so to redress the balance I will be posting stuff I have done on the Veraxen paint-by-numbers app. I have also downloaded the Ibis Paint x app and would  like to do some fantasy artwork inspired by Dark Crystal, Wheel of time, Lord of the Rings and Roger Dean. I have also borrowed a number of books from the local library including Draw Manga by Sonia Leong, how to draw Fantasy art by Steve Beaumont and Drawing and painting Fantasy Art by Finlay Cowan.  I’m the meantime here is Petra done using Veraxen paint by numbers.

Petra (Arabic: ٱلْبَتْرَاء‎, romanized: Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα, “Stone”), originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.[3] Petra is believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC, and it was possibly established in the 4th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans were nomadic Arabs who invested in Petra’s proximity to the trade routes by establishing it as a major regional trading hub.[4]

The trading business gained the Nabataeans considerable revenue and Petra became the focus of their wealth. The earliest historical reference to Petra was an unsuccessful attack on the city ordered by Antigonus I in 312 BC and recorded by various Greek historians. The Nabataeans were, unlike their enemies, accustomed to living in the barren deserts, and were able to repel attacks by taking advantage of the area’s mountainous terrain. They were particularly skillful in harvesting rainwater, agriculture and stone carving. Petra flourished in the 1st century AD, when its famous Khazneh structure – believed to be the mausoleum of Nabataean king Aretas IV – was constructed, and its population peaked at an estimated 20,000 inhabitants.[5]

Although the Nabataean kingdom became a client state of the Roman Empire in the first century BC, it was only in 106 AD that it lost its independence. Petra fell to the Romans, who annexed Nabataea and renamed it as Arabia Petraea. Petra’s importance declined as sea trade routes emerged, and after an earthquake in 363 destroyed many structures. In the Byzantine era several Christian churches were built, but the city continued to decline, and by the early Islamic era it was abandoned except for a handful of nomads. It remained unknown to the world until it was rediscovered in 1812 by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.

The city is accessed through a 1.2-kilometre-long (0.75 mi) gorge called the Siq, which leads directly to the Khazneh. Famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system, Petra is also called the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. In 2007, Al-Khazneh was voted as one of the New7Wonders of the World. Petra is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. Tourist numbers peaked at 1 million in 2010; but there followed a slump due to the political instability generated by the Arab Spring affecting countries surrounding Jordan. However, tourist numbers increased subsequently. About 800,000 tourists visited the site in 2018.

World Colouring Book Day

World Colouring Book day takes place annually on 2 August in recognition of the terapeutic, educational and, calming effect colouring books can bring to stressed-out children and adults alike. A coloring book (or colouring book, or colouring page) is a type of book containing line art to which people are intended to add color using crayons, colored pencils, marker pens, paint or other artistic media. Traditional coloring books and coloring pages are printed on paper or card. Some coloring books have perforated edges so their pages can be removed from the books and used as individual sheets. Others may include a story line and so are intended to be left intact. Today many children’s coloring books feature popular cartoon characters. They are often used as promotional materials for animated motion pictures. Coloring books may also incorporate other activities such as connect the dots, mazes and other puzzles. Some also incorporate the use of stickers.

Colouring books have a long history. The first coloring book was published in the late 1800’s by the McLoughlin Brothers when they first released ‘The Little Folks Painting Book’. Paint books and coloring books emerged in the United States as part of the “democratization of art” process, inspired by a series of lectures by British artist Joshua Reynolds, and the works of Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and his student Friedrich Fröbel. Many educators concluded that all, regardless of background, students stood to benefit from art education as a means of enhancing their conceptual understanding of the tangible, developing their cognitive abilities, and improving skills that would be useful in finding a profession, as well as for the children’s spiritual edification

The McLoughlin Brothers are credited as the inventors of the coloring book, when, in the 1880s, they produced The Little Folks’ Painting Book, in collaboration with Kate Greenaway. They continued to publish coloring books until the 1920s, when the McLoughlin Brothers became part of the Milton Bradley Company. Another pioneer in the genre was Richard F. Outcault. He authored Buster’s Paint Book in 1907, featuring the character of Buster Brown, which he had invented in 1902. It was published by the Stokes Company. This launched a trend to use coloring books to advertise a wide variety of products, including coffee and pianos. Until the 1930s, books were designed with the intent for them to be painted instead of colored. Even when crayons came into wide use in the 1930s, books were still designed so that they could be painted or colore

Today There are also many Books full of highly detailed intricate and beautiful illustrations such as Mandalas, fantasy art, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Star Wars and Landscapes which are designed specifically for adults. Since they were introduced Coloring books have been used for everything from educational purposes (coloring books are in every school), to aiding in therapy and health. In addition to colouring books themselves There are also colouring book Apps which you can down such as Veraxen and Amuseum. I myself have been using Veraxen to calm me down everytime i get stressed (I haven’t throttled anybody since i downloaded it😀) there are also a large number of line drawings which can be downloaded from places like Pinterest (so far Ive downloaded Neuschwannstein and Frauenkirche Dresden).


International Beer Day

International Beer Day (IBD) takes place on the first Friday of every August. The event was founded in 2007 in Santa Cruz, California by Jesse Avshalomov. The purpose of international Beer Day is To gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer. To celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer. To unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.

Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavouring agents such as gruit, herbs, or fruits may be included or used instead of hops. In commercial brewing, the natural carbonation effect is often removed during processing and replaced with forced carbonation.

Some of humanity’s earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer: the Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating beer and beer parlours, and “The Hymn to Ninkasi”, a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, served as both a prayer and as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people. Beer is distributed in bottles and cans and is also commonly available on draught, particularly in pubs and bars. The brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries. The strength of modern beer is usually around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (ABV), although it may vary between 0.5% and 20%, with some breweries creating examples of 40% ABV and above.

Participants of International Beer Day are encouraged to give one another the ‘gift of beer’ by buying each other drinks, and to express gratitude to brewers, bartenders, and other beer technicians. In the international spirit of the holiday, it is also suggested that participants step out of their domestic/locally brewed comfort zone and sample a beer from another culture. International Beer Day began as a celebration at the founders’ local bar, but has since expanded to become a worldwide event. Celebrations are planned throughout the United States as well as in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, France, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Venezuela.

Beer forms part of the culture of many nations and is associated with social traditions such as beer festivals, as well as a rich pub culture involving activities like pub crawling and pub games. International Beer Day Events include: Tapping of new or rare beers, all-day happy hours, beer flights, trivia nights, binge drinking and other games (such as beer pong), beer/food pairings and beer gear giveaways. From 2007 through 2012, International Beer Day was celebrated on August 5. After International Beer Day 2012, the founders took a poll of fans and chose to move the holiday to the first Friday in August. Since its inception, International Beer Day has grown from a small localized event in the western United States into a worldwide celebration spanning 207 cities, 80 countries and 6 continents.

Thomas Gainsborough

Prolific English portrait and landscape painter Thomas Gainsborough sadly died 2 August 1788. He was christened 14 May in 1727. in Sudbury, Suffolk, the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and maker of woollen goods, and his wife, the sister of the Reverend Humphry Burrough One of Gainsborough’s brothers, Humphrey, had a faculty for mechanics and was said to have invented the method of condensing steam in a separate vessel, which was of great service to James Watt; another brother, John, was known as Scheming Jack because of his passion for designing curiosities. The artist spent his childhood at what is now Gainsborough’s House, on Gainsborough Street (he later resided there, following the death of his father in 1749). The original building still survives and is now a dedicated House to his life and art. During childhood he impressed his father with his drawing and painting skills, and he almost certainly had painted heads and small landscapes by the time he was ten years old, including a miniature self-portrait.

In 1740, he left home to study art in London with Hubert Gravelot, Francis Hayman, and William Hogarth. He assisted Francis Hayman in the decoration of the supper boxes at Vauxhall Gardens, and contributed to the decoration of what is now the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. In 1746, he married Margaret Burr, and the couple became the parents of two daughters. He moved to Bath in 1759 where fashionable society patronised him, he studied portraits by van Dyck and was eventually able to attract a fashionable clientele. In 1761, he began to send work to the Society of Arts exhibition in London (now the Royal Society of Arts, of which he was one of the earliest members); and from 1769 he submitted works to the Royal Academy’s annual exhibitions. He selected portraits of well-known or notorious clients in order to attract attention. The exhibitions helped him acquire a national reputation.

In 1769, he became a founding member of the Royal Academy, but his relationship with the organisation was thorny and he sometimes withdrew his work from exhibition. Gainsborough moved to London in 1774, and painted portraits of the King and Queen, but the King was obliged to name as royal painter Gainsborough’s rival Joshua Reynolds. In his last years, Gainsborough painted relatively simple landscapes and is credited (with Richard Wilson) as the originator of the 18th century British landscape school. In 1774, Gainsborough and his family moved to London to live in Schomberg House, Pall Mall. A commemorative blue plaque was put on the house in 1951. In 1777, he again began to exhibit his paintings at the Royal Academy, including portraits of contemporary celebrities, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland. Exhibitions of his work continued for the next six years. Gainsborough began experimenting with printmaking using the then-novel techniques of aquatint and soft-ground etching.

During the 1770s and 1780s Gainsborough developed a type of portrait in which he integrated the sitter into the landscape. A splendid example of this is his portrait of Frances Browne, Mrs John Douglas (1746-1811) which can be seen at Waddesdon Manor. The sitter has withdrawn to a secluded and overgrown corner of a garden to read a letter, her pose recalling the traditional representation of Melancholy. Gainsborough emphasised the relationship between Mrs Douglas and her environment by painting the clouds behind her and the drapery billowing across her lap with similar silvery mauves and fluid brushstrokes. This portrait was included in his first private exhibition at Schomberg House in 1784.

Gainsborough sadly passed away from the effects of cancer in 1788 and is interred at St. Anne’s Church, Kew, Surrey. However he has left the world with some wonderful paintings most of which are characterised by a light palette and easy strokes. He preferred landscapes to portraits. There have also been many films based on his life and Cecil Kellaway portrayed him in the 1945 film Kitty.