The parlour at Gainsborough's House with portraiture from Gainsborough's Ipswich period on display
Thomas Gainsborough was born here in 1727, the fifth son of nine children. He spent much of his childhood sketching in the landscape surrounding Sudbury, establishing the love of landscape that would run throughout his later career. He trained in London, where he became part of the St Martin's Lane community of artists that also included William Hogarth (1697-1762) and Francis Hayman (1708-1776). On returning to Sudbury in 1746, following his marriage to Margaret Burr, Gainsborough worked as a portrait painter to the local gentry, before moving to nearby Ipswich, and then, in 1759, to Bath, where he established himself as a portrait painter to the aristocracy. He would go on to become a founding member of the Royal Academy and a favourite painter to the court. Despite being best known as a portrait painter, landscape remained his passion and he often fused it with portraiture in innovative ways. Indeed, Gainsborough was one of the primary artistic influences on the young John Constable (1776-1837), born in nearby East Bergholt and deeply inspired by Gainsborough's pioneering approach to landscape painting.
The house at 46 Gainsborough Street dates back to the sixteenth century, and behind the Georgian brick façade that was added in 1723, much of its early history is still visible. It was occupied both by private individuals and run as a tea-shop and B&B in the centuries following Gainsborough's death, and it opened to the public in 1961, after a vigorous campaign to save it for the nation. Today Gainsborough's House displays the most comprehensive collection of Thomas Gainsborough's art to be found within a single setting, and stages a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. In addition to featuring a beautiful garden at the back of the House planted with 18th-century plant species, the Gainsborough's House Print Workshop stands as one of the finest in the country, carrying on Gainsborough's proud tradition as one of the most innovative printmakers of his day.
46 Gainsborough Street
Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm
Closed on Good Friday and between Christmas and New Year
Front exterior of Gainsborough's House with the Georgian brick facade added 1723
The garden at Gainsborough's House during its period as a B&B and guesthouse in the mid-twentieth century
Rear exterior of Gainsborough's House with the eighteenth-century walled garden