The Royal Academy of Arts is founded in 1768. The first exhibition made in the following year marks the triumph of its first president, Joshua Reynolds, who expresses his theories in popular lectures. Gainsborough, who is a founding member of the Academy, disagrees. The opposition between the theoretical approach of Reynolds and the spontaneity of Gainsborough exacerbates their fertile rivalry.
Reynolds does not like the cold colors. Gainsborough is seeking their merit by studying the best portraitist who has worked in England, Van Dyck. The blue captures the attention of the viewer and can be used in large areas to show a silk garment. His Blue boy, oil on canvas 178 x 112 cm painted circa 1770, is a famous challenge by Gainsborough to Reynolds.
On January 27 in New York, Sotheby's sells the Blue page by Gainsborough, lot 62 estimated $ 3M. The discussions to identify whether this oil on canvas 166 x 113 cm is a sketch or a following to the Blue boy are inconclusive.
Gainsborough painted the Blue page for his private use with the same model as the Blue boy, perhaps his nephew and assistant who was sixteen years old. The difficulty of identifying the background of the scene can be interpreted as a test for the balance of colors but the less static attitude of the boy who goes away after achieving his session appears instead as a conclusion.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
SOLD for $ 3.25M including premium