Youth and training
Lady Lloyd and Her Son, Richard Savage Lloyd, of Hintlesham Hall, Suffolk
(1745–46). At the time, his clientele included mainly local merchants and squires.
He was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, the youngest son of John Gainsborough, a weaver and maker of woolen goods, and his wife, the sister of the Reverend Humphry Burroughs. One of Gainsborough's brothers, Humphrey, had a faculty for mechanics and was said to have invented the method of condensing steam in a separate vessel, which was of great service to James Watt; another brother, John, was known as Scheming Jack because of his passion for designing curiosities.
The artist spent his childhood at what is now Gainsborough's House, on Gainsborough Street, Sudbury. He later resided there, following the death of his father in 1748 and before his move to Ipswich. The building still survives and is now a house-museum dedicated to his life and art.
When he was still a boy he impressed his father with his drawing and painting skills, and he almost certainly had painted heads and small landscapes by the time he was ten years old, including a miniature self-portrait. Gainsborough was allowed to leave home in 1740 to study art in London, where he trained under engraver Hubert Gravelot but became associated with William Hogarth and his school. He assisted Francis Hayman in the decoration of the supper boxes at Vauxhall Gardens, and contributed one image to the decoration of what is now the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children.