OIL PAINTING: The Hon. Frances Duncombe, 1777
In 1760 Gainsborough decided to move to Bath, where it was possible for him to have portraits commissioned by the much wealthier and nobler persons. Bath, famous for its mineral waters, was the principal lounging place for persons of wealth and leisure in winter. Gainsborough became well-known there in his first year after moving and since then always had a lot of sitters. Gainsborough's portraits combine the elegance of Van Dyck with his own characteristic informality. There are such early masterpieces as Mrs. Philip Thicknesse (1760), Mary, Countess Howe (about 1763-4), The Blue Boy (exhibited R.A. 1770), and the landscape The Harvest Wagon (exhibited S.A. 1767). In 1768 Gainsborough became one of the foundation members of the Royal Academy, at which he exhibited annually until 1784, when he retired after the disagreement over the hanging of his oil paintings at the exhibition.