The painting “The Blue Boy” is one of the most widely recognized works of Thomas Gainsborough. The artist created his own special style and manner of writing the portrait. Paying special attention to models, he used the surrounding nature to convey their mood and character.
In addition to the important role of the landscape in the composition, T. Gainsborough used cold colors that were not characteristic of traditional canons. It is curious that the latter even caused a polemic between him and his contemporary Joshua Reynolds, who believed that warm colors based on brown and red should be used as the basis for writing portraits.
Gainsborough did not seek to engage in controversy with his opponent; painting a portrait of “The Blue Boy” in exquisite silver-blue and gray colors, he thereby refuted the opponent’s arguments.
Jonathan Battle, who became the prototype of the image, was the son of a wealthy merchant in iron and hardware. The boy was not an aristocrat, but the artist, with a deliberate intention, dressed him in a luxurious and elegant suit. Firstly, the portrait was painted in 1770, when in Britain it was fashionable to pose in costumes of the 18th century. The second reason was Gainsborough's attention-grabbing expression of independence and significance on the young man's face.
Clothing only slightly enhances this superiority effect. T. Gainsborough sought to capture just such a phenomenon, arguing that nobility is inherent not only because of the origin of man, but the nature of the person himself. The pose is at the same time too simple and as if full of challenge, the consequence of which is the restless, darkening, as before a thunderstorm, sky behind the figure. The boy stands firmly and confidently, his gaze is directed at you and, piercing, rushes further beyond the horizon. He is here, illuminated by light and shimmering like topaz, silver and a pure heavenly color, radiating recklessness and grace. And in the next second he will disappear like a vision, waving his hat.
The painting is filled with grace, warmth and lightness, being one of the favorite for the artist himself. By the way, during his work, Thomas Gainsborough became a good friend of Joshua Reynolds, who afterwards remained a loyal fan of his work and collected his works. By the way, there is a later version of this picture - “The Pink Boy” or “Young Nicole”. It was written in 1782, but did not receive the same fame and unfamiliar to the general public.
Illustrations to the Tales of Ivan Bilibin