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Gainsborough Dupont, ca. 1775-1776

Artist: Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727-1788

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 30 x 24 7/8 in. (76.2 x 63.2 cm)
Frame: 38 5/8 x 33 5/8 x 3 in. (98.1 x 85.4 x 7.6 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morrie A. Moss

Object Number: 61.173

On View

Estate of the Artist, 1797; Mrs. Stow, sister of Gainsborough Dupont; Mrs. Sharp, daughter of Mrs. Stow; Mrs. J. H. Browne, daughter of Mrs. Sharpe, recorded in her possession in 1856; Miss Emily Sarah Browne, daughter of Mrs. J. H. Browne, 1906; Miss M. E. Hadland, an intimate friend of Miss Browne, 1919; Thomas Agnew and Sons; Mr. John H. McFadden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Laurence Eyre, New York, New York, and Ridgefield, Connecticut (sale, London, Christie's, May 1, 1959, no. 84, unsold); Mrs. Martin Becher, New York, New York; Mr. T. Gilbert Brouilette, New York, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Morrie A. Moss, Memphis, Tennessee, 1961

Thomas Gainsborough was born in Suffolk and began to study as a silversmith at the age of thirteen. However, he never had any formal academic training as a painter. An original founder of the Royal Academy in 1768, he exhibited in the first exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1769. By the end of his career, Gainsborough was a great rival of the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose work can also be seen in the Brooks Museum Collection.


Gainsborough Dupont was Thomas Gainsborough’s nephew and, from 1772, was also his uncle’s assistant, the only one that he appears to have employed. Apparently hoping that Dupont would carry on his legacy, at his death Gainsborough left Dupont one hundred pounds and all of his paints, varnishes, tools, models, and painting utensils. In 1775, at the age of seventeen, Dupont entered the Royal Academy School; it was at about this time that his uncle painted the Brooks portrait of him. Probably because he was kept busy working in his uncle’s studio, Dupont did not exhibit at the Royal Academy until 1790, two years after his uncle’s death. Dupont went on to have moderate success as a portrait painter, but died at the young age of forty-two.


Gainsborough drew or painted his nephew on several occasions. Here he can be seen - a bright and slender young man of about twenty years of age - painted in a dignifying oval, looking out to the right with his gaze fixed firmly on the viewer. As was highly fashionable at the time, his hair is dressed and powdered. The Brooks portrait is very similar to the final self-portrait that Gainsborough painted around 1787 and is now in the collection of the Royal Academy in London.