Thomas Gainsborough painting to return to England after 100 years

The Blue Boy on display at The Huntington in California

The Blue Boy on display at The Huntington in California - Credit: The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens

A Thomas Gainsborough painting is set to return to the National Gallery 100 years to the day since it was last displayed there.

The Suffolk artist's work, The Blue Boy, was last on show at the London gallery on January 25 1922, before being taken across the pond to the USA.

The work, painted in 1770, was seen by 90,000 visitors during the three weeks on display in the 1920s.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday June 30 Undated handout photo issued by the National Gallery of the Blue

The painting is to return to the National Gallery 100 years to the day since it was last displayed there - Credit: PA/National Gallery

It depicts a young man posing in a blue outfit, who is rumoured to be Jonathan Buttle, the son of a wealthy merchant.

National Gallery director Charles Holmes wrote "au revoir" on the back of the painting before it was moved to Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.


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Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said: “The loan of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy to the National Gallery is truly exceptional and a unique opportunity for visitors to see Gainsborough at his dazzling best.

“Rich in historical resonances, a painting of supreme poise and elegance, The Blue Boy is without doubt a masterpiece of British art.”

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday June 30 Undated handout photo issued by the National Gallery of people l

Ppeople looking at The Blue Boy, painted in 1770 by Thomas Gainsborough - Credit: PA/National Gallery

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This is the first time the painting has been loaned.

Huntington president Karen R Lawrence said: “This masterpiece has made an indelible mark on both art history and popular culture, capturing the imaginations of a wide range of audiences.

“Given The Blue Boy’s iconic status at the Huntington, this is an unprecedented loan, one which we considered very carefully.

“We hope that this partnership with the National Gallery will spark new conversations, appreciation, and research on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Visitors will be able to see the painting free of charge from January 25 next year.

Those in Suffolk who want to see other examples of the Sudbury-born artist's work can find a selection featured at Christchurch Mansion.

The central Ipswich mansion holds the largest collection of both Gainsborough and fellow renowned Suffolk artist John Constable's work outside of the capital.

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