I have grown up seeing copies of Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Blueboy” and Thomas Lawrence’s “Pinkie” in so many different places, including my own home. My mother had copies of those two pictures hung up in our living room. A lot of people believe that they were painted by the same person, but that is not true. Gainsborough was born before Lawrence and their lives did overlap but they were contemporaries for just a short time.
Thomas Gainsborough (christened 14 May 1727, died 2 August 1788) was an English portrait and landscape painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. He surpassed his rival Sir Joshua Reynolds to become the dominant British portraitist of the second half of the 18th century. He painted quickly, and the works of his maturity are characterised by a light palette and easy strokes. He preferred landscapes to portraits, and is credited (with Richard Wilson) as the originator of the 18th-century British landscape school. Gainsborough was a founding member of the Royal Academy.
Sir Thomas Lawrence( born 13 April 1769 – died 7 January 1830) was a leading English portrait painter and president of the Royal Academy.
Lawrence was a child prodigy. He was born in Bristol and began drawing in Devizes, where his father was an innkeeper. At the age of ten, having moved to Bath, he was supporting his family with his pastel portraits. At eighteen he went to London and soon established his reputation as a portrait painter in oils, receiving his first royal commission, a portrait of Queen Charlotte, in 1790. He stayed at the top of his profession until his death, aged 60, in 1830.
Self-taught, he was a brilliant draughtsman and known for his gift of capturing a likeness, as well as his virtuoso handling of paint. He became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791, a full member in 1794, and president in 1820. In 1810 he acquired the generous patronage of the Prince Regent, was sent abroad to paint portraits of allied leaders for the Waterloo chamber at Windsor Castle, and is particularly remembered as the Romantic portraitist of the Regency. Lawrence’s love affairs were not happy (his tortuous relationships with Sally and Maria Siddons became the subject of several books) and, in spite of his success, he spent most of life deep in debt. He never married. At his death, Lawrence was the most fashionable portrait painter in Europe. His reputation waned during Victorian times, but has since been partially restored.
The Blue Boy (c. 1770) is a full-length portrait in oil by Thomas Gainsborough, now in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Perhaps Gainsborough’s most famous work, it is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall (1752–1805), the son of a wealthy hardware merchant, although this has never been proven. It is a historical costume study as well as a portrait: the youth in his 17th-century apparel is regarded as Gainsborough’s homage to Anthony van Dyck, and in particular is very close to Van Dyck’s portrait of Charles II as a boy.
Pinkie is the traditional title for a portrait made in 1794 by Thomas Lawrence in the permanent collection of the Huntington Library at San Marino, California where it hangs opposite The Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough. The title now given it by the museum is Sarah Barrett Moulton: Pinkie. These two works are the centerpieces of the institute’s art collection, which specialises in 18th-century English portraiture. The painting is an elegant depiction of Sarah Barrett Moulton, who was about eleven years old when painted. Her direct gaze and the loose, energetic brushwork give the portrait a lively immediacy. (excerpts of the biographys of Gainsborough, Lawrence, Blueboy and Pinkie courtesy of Wikipedia).
“The Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough
“Pinkie” by Thomas Lawrence