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Thomas Hudson 1701-1779
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Thomas Hudson 1701-1779

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Three-quarter length portrait of a Gentleman dressed in a white waistcoat trimmed in gold and brown surcoat, sitting in a green upholstered giltwood chair by a giltwood console table

 

Oil painting on canvas 50 x 40 inches, and contained in a fine carved and gilded mid-Georgian frame

 

Provenance: Private collection, Wisconsin, USA

 

Painted circa 1745

 

Thomas Hudson, a native of Devon, was by far the leading portrait painter in London for two decades in the middle years of the 18th century. He had arrived in London in the 1720’s after the death of Sir Godfrey Kneller, who had dominated London society portraiture for decades. He was taught to paint portraits by the redoubtable Jonathan Richardson, the artist, connoisseur, collector and theoretician of the arts. His portrait practice by 1740 was substantial and highly successful, and numerous paintings by him survive. He continued the tradition of Van Dyck and Lely, and maintained a large studio with numerous talented young artists whom he taught: Henry Pickering, Joseph Wright of Derby, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Hamilton Mortimer and others. He usually employed Joseph Van Aken as his drapery painter, and the consequence is that many of the works of these artists in these two decades are often difficult to distinguish one from another.

His quality, though, is consistent, and his likenesses truthful: they are the sound Georgian Prose and may be contrasted with the feathery rococo poetry of painters of the next generation, most notably Gainsborough. The present paining displays a confidence in draughtsmanship and sureness of touch which strongly implies a master painter at the height of his capacity in the mid-1740's, a dating confirmed by the clothing fashion worn by the sitter.

Hudson retired into a prosperous old age in Twickenham, where he died in 1779.


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