Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) was a master artist whose landscapes and portraits were graced with elegance, refinement and stunning realism. A child prodigy, he was sent to London to study art at age 13. Gainsborough was later commissioned to create portraits of numerous aristocrats, becoming the favorite painter of the Royal Family. He also depicted sympathetic rural scenes of shepherds and farm workers. Strongly influenced by the work of Anthony Van Dyck, Gainsborough's portraits exuded realism and exceptional richness. Partial to landscapes, which he painted for his own pleasure, Gainsborough created many of the first great landscapes painted in England.