Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Gallery: Have you seen Gainsborough’s bladders? Artist’s painting tools rediscovered after centuries in attic

15:26 18 February 2014

The discovery of several paint bladders at Gainsborough House in Sudbury.

The discovery of several paint bladders at Gainsborough House in Sudbury.

Archant

They spent hundreds of years lost in the attic; unnoticed, unloved and unused.

shares

And despite being rediscovered in the 1960s very little is known about them – you might not know what they are at all.

These unassuming pouches go by the name of paint bladders and might well have belonged to Sudbury-born artist Thomas Gainsborough.

They were found undisturbed at his former house in Sudbury in the mid-1960s during a clear-out, not long after the house was opened to the public as a museum.

But at the time nothing was done with them and it is only now staff at Gainsborough’s House can investigate them further.

Executive director Mark Bills is planning to feature the paint bladders in an exhibition, but only after they have been examined by specialists.

“We’ve commissioned the Hamilton Kerr Institute at Cambridge University,” said Mr Bills. “They have lots of experience in this area.

“The paints will undergo a scientific test to date them and to see if it’s plausible that they’re Gainsborough’s.

“They have been in the house and now we’ve got some funding to actually do some research into them and see if they belong to Gainsborough.

“We do know they’re mid-18th Century and French.”

Nineteen pouches were found in the attic and Mr Bills said it is quite rare to find so many together.

And while being discovered at Gainsborough’s home gives a good clue to their ownership more research is need to see if it is plausible that they are his.

“It is possible they were a present to someone in the family but to buy paints at that time wasn’t cheap, they would have been a good present,” Mr Bills added.

“There are secrets yet to be revealed.”

Once the tests have been completed and the paints returned to Sudbury they will become part of an exhibition next year.

There will also be a conference about the practices of Gainsborough and other artists in the 18th Century.

And even if it turns out the paint bladders did not belong to Gainsborough they will still be a valued addition to the museum’s collection.

“To have 19 surviving is a very rare thing,” Mr Bills said. “They are really important.”

shares

0 comments

The scene of a thatch fire in Stoke-by-Nayland

A picturesque country cottage is still standing today despite a fire ripping through its thatched roof.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train

Rail services between London Liverpool Street and Norwich have been cancelled after a train fault at Diss.

Ipswich Town v Arsenal  FA Cup Final at Wembley 1978 - 

Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter

It is an impassioned debate which never fails to invigorate the East Anglian derby.

Colchester Half-Marathon. Starting and finishing at Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Competitors braved the dismal morning weather today to take part in the Colchester Half Marathon.

The scene after the thatched roof fire in Stoke by Nayland - Picture credit - Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

Ten fire crews tackled a thatched roof blaze in a Suffolk village overnight.

Sir John French: a colourful character and respected soldier

We’ve heard about the Suffolk men who fought at the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Ipswich Crown Court

A 19-year old man who met up with a 13-year-old girl and exchanged text messages with her despite being given a police caution for kissing her several months earlier has been sentenced to 21 months youth detention.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral overlooking colourful displays in the Abbey Gardens

Suffolk’s most important religious building has been awarded a £300,000 Government grant to pay for urgent roof repairs.

Josephine Murphy

An 86-year-old woman who had gone missing from Clacton has been found safe and well

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Most read

Topic pages