bad manners. The artists of his day tried to
treat him with every consideration, but in return
he treated them very badly, especially Sir Joshua
Reynolds. Reynolds, who was then President of
the Academy greatly admired Gainsborough but
the latter would not return Sir Joshua's call, and
when Reynolds asked him to paint his portrait
for him, Gainsborough imdertook it thanklessly.
Sir Joshua left town for Bath for a time, and
when he returned he tried to learn how soon the
portrait would be finished, but Gainsborough
would not even reply to his inquiry. There
seems to have been no reason for this behaviour
unless it was jealousy, but it made a most un-
comfortable situation between fellow artists
Gainsborough has told some not very pleas-
ing stories about himself, but one of them
Thomas Gainsborough lo
shows us what a knack he had for seeing the
comic side of things, and perhaps for seeing
comedy where it never existed. Upon one
occasion he was invited to a friend's house
where the family were in the habit of assemb-
Hng for prayers, and he had no sooner got
inside, than he began to fear he should laugh,
when prayer time came, at the chaplain. In a
rush of shyness he fled, leaving his host to look
for him, till he stumbled over a servant who
said that Mr. Gainsborough had charged him
to say he had gone to breakfast at Salisbury.
Even respect for the customs of others could
not make him control himself.
It was through his intimacy with King
George's family that his quarrel with the
Royal Academy came about. He had painted
the three princesses â€” the Princess Royal,
Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth, and these
were to be hung at a certain height in Carlton
House, but when he sent the first to the
Academy he asked it to be specially hung and
his request was refused. Then he sent a note
as follows :
"He begs pardon for giving them so much trouble, but
he has painted the picture of the princesses in so tender a
light that, notwithstanding he approves very much of
the established line for strong effects, he cannot possibly
consent to have it placed higher than eight feet and a half,
because the likeness and the work of the picture will not
be seen any higher, therefore at a word he will not trouble
the gentlemen against their inclination, but will beg the
rest of his pictures back again."
I04 Pictures Every Child Should Know
Immediately, the Academy returned his
pictures, although it would seem that they
might better have accommodated Gainsborough
than have lost such a fine exhibition. He
never again would send anything to them.
He was inclined to be irritated by inartistic
points in his sitters, and is said to have muttered
when he was painting the portrait of Mrs.
Siddons, the great actress: ''Damn your nose
madam; there is no end to it." The nose
in question must have been an "eyesore"
to more than Gainsborough, for a famous
critic is said to have declared that "Mrs.
Siddons, with all her beauty was a kind of
female Johnson . . . her nose was not
too long for nothing."
Notwithstanding that his landscapes were
not popular, he used to go off into the country
to indulge his taste for painting them, and
once he wrote to a friend that he meant to
mount "all the Lakes at the next Exhibition
in the great style, and you know, if people
don't like them, it 's only jumping into one
of the deepest of them from off a wooded island
and my reputation will be fixed forever."
An old lady, whose guest he was, down in the
country, told how he was *'gay, very gay, and
good looking, creating a great sensation, in a rich
suit of drab with laced ruffles and cocked hat."
One of the boys he saw in the country he
delighted to paint, and he also grew so much
attached to him that he took him to London
Thomas Gainsborough 105
and kept him with him as his own son. That
boy's name was Jack Hill and he did not care
for city life, nor maybe for Gainsborough's
eccentricities, so he ran away. He was found
again and again, till one day he got away for
good, and never came back.
All his later life Gainsborough was happy.
His daughter, who had married Fischer, the
hautboy-player, came back home to live, and
her disorder was not bad enough to prevent
her being a cause of great happiness to her
father. The other daughter never married.
Gainsborough says that he spent a thousand
pounds a year, but he also gave to everybody
who asked of him, and to many who asked
nothing, so that he must have made a great
deal of money during his lifetime, by his art.
It is said that the "Boy at the Stile" was
bestowed on Colonel Hamilton for his fine
playing of a solo on the violin. A lady who
had done the artist some trifling service
received twenty drawings as a reward, which
she pasted on the walls of her rooms without
the slightest idea of their value.
Gainsborough got up early in the morning,
but did not w^ork more than five hours. He
liked his friends, his music, and his wife, and
spent much time with them. He was witty,
and while he sketched pictures in the evening,
with his wife and daughters at his side, he kept
them laughing with his droll sayings.
The last days of Gainsborough showed him
io6 Pictures Every Child Should Know
to be a hero. He died of cancer, and some
time before he knew what his disease was he
must have suffered a great deal. There is a
story that is very pathetic of a dinner with his
friends, Beaumont and Sheridan. Usually,
he was the gayest of the gay, but of late all his
friends had noticed that gaiety came to him
with effort. Upon the night of this dinner,
Sheridan had been his wittiest, and had tried
his hardest to make Gainsborough cheer up,
till finally, the artist, finding it impossible to
get out of his sad mood, asked Sheridan if
he would leave the table and speak with him
alone. The two friends went out together.
"Now don't laugh, but listen," Gainsborough
said; "I shall soon die. I know it; I feel it.
I have less time to live than my looks infer,
but I do not fear death. What oppresses my
mind is this: I have many acquaintances,
few friends; and as I wish to have one worthy
man to accompany me to the grave, I am
desirous of bespeaking you. Will you come?
Aye or no ! " At that Sheridan, who was greatly
shocked, tried to cheer him, but Gainsborough
would not return to the table, till he got the
promise, which of course Sheridan made.
It was not very long after this that a famous
trial took place â€” that of Warren Hastings. It
was in Westminster Hall, and Gainsborough
went to listen several times. On the last
occasion, he became so interested in what was
happening that he did jiot notice a window
Thomas Gainshorongli 107
open at his back. After a little he said to a
friend that he "felt something inexpressibly
cold" touch his neck. On his return home he
told of the strange feeling to his wife. Then
he sent for a doctor, and there was found a
little swelling. The doctor said it was not
serious and that when the weather grew
warmer it would disappear ; but all the while
Gainsborough felt certain that it would mean
his death. A short time after that he told his
sister that he knew himself to have a cancer,
and that was true.
When he felt that he must die, he fell to
thinking of many things in the past, and
wished to right certain mistakes of his be-
haviour as far as possible.
He sent to Sir Joshua Reynolds and asked
him to come and see him, since he could not
go to see Sir Joshua. Reynolds went and then
Gainsborough told him of his regret that he
had shown so much ill-will and jealousy toward
so great and worthy a rival. Reynolds was
very generous and tried to make Gainsborough
understand that all was forgiven and forgotten.
He left his brother artist much relieved and
happier, and he afterward said: "The im-
pression on my mind was that his regret at
losing life was principally the regret of leaving
his art." As Reynolds left the dying man's
room, Gainsborough called after him: "We
are all going to heaven â€” and VanDyck is of
io8 Pictures Every Child Should Know
He was buried in Kew Churchyard and the
ceremonies were followed by Reynolds and
five of the Royal Academicians, who forgot
all Gainsborough's eccentricities of conduct
toward them in their honest grief over his
death. He was one of the first three dozen
original members of the Royal Academy.
PLATE PORTRAIT OF MRS. RICHARD BRINSLEY
This picture is now in the collection of Lord
Rothschild, London. Mrs. Sheridan was the
loveliest lady of her time. She was the daughter
of Thomas Linley, and a singer.
She came from a home which was called "a
nest of nightingales," because all in it were
musicians. The father had a large family and
made up his mind to become the best musician
of his time in his locality in order to support them.
He was successful, and in turn most of his chil-
dren became musicians. His lovely daughter,
Eliza (Mrs. Sheridan), he bound to himself as an
apprentice and taught her till she was twenty-one,
insisting that she "serve out her time" to him,
that she might become a perfect singer. The
story of this beautiftd lady seems to belong to
the story of Gainsborough's portrait and shall
be told here.
When she was a very little girl, no more than
eight years old, she was so beautiful that as she
stood at the door of the pump room in Bath to sell
Thomas Gainshoro^igh 109
tickets for her father's concerts, everyone bought
them from her. When she was a very young
woman her father engaged her to marry a Mr.
Long, sixty years old. She did not seem to mind
what arrangements her father made for her,
but continued to sing and attend to her business,
till after the wedding gowns were all made and
everything ready for the marriage, when she
happened to meet the brilliant Richard Brinsley
Sheridan, whose plays were so fashionable, and
she fell deeply in love with him. She told Mr.
Long she w^ould not marry him, and without
much objection he gave her up, but her father
was very angry and he threatened to sue Mr. Long
for letting his daughter go. Then the beautiful
lady ran away to Calais and married Mr. Sheridan
without her father's permission; but she came
home again and said nothing of what she had
done, kept on singing and helping her father
earn money for his family. One day, Mr.
Sheridan w^as wounded in a duel which he had
fought with one of his wife's admirers, and when
she heard the news she screamed, " my husband ^
my husband," so that everybody knew she was
married to the fascinating play^vright. Sheridan
for some reason did not at once come and get her,
nor arrange for them to have a home together.
For a good while she continued to sing ; and once
hearing her in oratorio, Sheridan fell in love
with his wife all over again. lie took her from
her home and would never let her sing again in
public. They remarried publicly and went to
no Pictures Every Child Should Know
live in London. He was not at all a rich and
famous man at that time â€” only a poor law-
student â€” but he would not let his wife make
the fortune she might easily have made, by
This must have made his beautiful wife very
sad, but she made no complaint at giving up
her music and letting him silence her lovely
voice, but turned all her attention to advancing
his fortunes. She worked for him even harder
than she had for her father, and that was saying
a great deal. When he became a great writer
of plays his wife took charge of all the accounts
of his Drury Lane Theatre, and when he was in
the House of Commons she acted as his secretarv.
Sheridan died in great poverty and wretchedness,
and it is believed had his self-sacrificing wife
not died before him she would have looked after
his affairs so well that he would not have lost his
forttme. Gainsborough painted the portraits of
Sheridan's father-in-law, and of Samuel Linley;
and it was said that this last portrait was painted
in forty-eight minutes. Among his other por-
traits are: eight of George HL, Sir John
Skynner, Admiral Hood, Colonel St. Leger,
and "The Blue Boy"; but he was first and last
a landscape painter of highest genius.
JEAN LEON GEROME
(Pronounced Zhahn Lay'on Zhay-rome)
French, Semi-classical School 1 824-1 904
Pupil of Delaroche
ONE cannot write much more than the date
of birth and death of a man who lived imtil
three or four years of the time of writing, so we may
only say that Gerome was one of the most brilliant
of modem French painters. He was bom at
Vesoul and his father was a goldsmith. Thus
he probably had no very great difBculty in getting
a start in his work. The prejudice against having
an artist in the family was dying out, and as a
prosperous goldsmith we may believe that his
father had means enough to give his son good
Gerome, like Millet, studied under Delaroche,
but became no such characteristic painter as he.
While studying with Delaroche he also was taking
the course in I'Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
His first exhibited picture was "The Cock
Fight," and he won a third class medal by it.
Almost always this painter has chosen his
subjects from ancient or classic life, and his
pictures are not always decent, but he painted
with much care, the details of his work are
112 Pictures Every Child Should Know
very finely done and their vivid coloiir is
PLATE â€” THE SWORD DANCE
This painting may be seen in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York City. The scene
is full of action and interest, but perhaps the
details of dress, mosaic decoration upon the walls,
patterns of the rugs, the coloured and jewelled
lamps and windows are the most splendidly
painted of all.
The central figure is a dancing girl, only partly
draped, balancing a sw^ord on her head, while
a brilliant green veil flies from head and face.
Other Oriental women squat upon the floor
watching her with a half indolent expression,
while their Oriental masters and their friends
sit in pomp at one side, absorbed in the dance
and in the girl. The expressions upon all the
faces are excellent and, the jewelled light that
falls upon the group, the rich clothing, the grace
of the dancer â€” all make a fascinating picture
of a genre type. Other Geromes are ''Daphnis
and Chloe," ''Leda," and ''The Duel after
the Masked Ball."
GiOVANNA DEGLI Albizi â€” Gliirlandajo
The tablet states that if art could have painted her mind and
manner, no picture on earth would have been more beautiful
Meeting of St. Johx and St. Axxa â€” Giotto
A fourteenth century fresco, showing great
advance on the few paintings that preceded it
Florentine School 1449-1494
Pupil of Fra Bartolommeo
IT IS a good deal of a name â€” Domenico
di Tommaso di Currado Bigordi â€” and
it would appear that the child who bore it
was under obligation to become a good deal
of a something before he died.
Italian and Spanish painters generally had
large names to live up to, and the one known as
Ghirlandajo did nobly.
His father was a goldsmith and a popular part
of his w^ork was the making of golden garlands
for the hair of rich Italian ladies. His work
was so beautiful that it gained for him the name
of Ghirlandajo, meaning the garland-twiner, a
name that lived after him, in the great art of his
son. Domenico began as a worker in mosaic,
a maker of pictures or designs with many coloured
pieces of glass or stone.
Ghirlandajo's art was no improvement on that
of his teacher, but he in turn became the teacher
of Michael Angelo.
The Florentine school of painting, to which
Ghirlandajo belonged, was not so famous for
114 Pictures Every Child Should Know
colour as the Venetian school, but it had many
other elements to commend it. One cannot
expect Ghirlandajo to rank with Titian, Rubens,
or other " colourists " of his own and later periods,
but he did the very best work of his day and school.
He attained to fame through his choice of types
of faces for his models, and by his excellent
grouping of figures.
Until his day, the faces introduced into paintings
were likely to be unattractive, but he chose
pleasing ones, and he painted the folds of gar-
ments beautifully. He was not entirely original
in his ideas, but be carried out those which others
had thus far failed to make interesting.
Often, in his wish to paint exactly what he
saw, he softened nothing and therefore his
figures were repulsive, but Fra Bartolommeo's
pupil gave promise of what Michael Angelo was
Ghirlandajo and Michael Angelo were a good
deal alike in their emotional natures. Both
sought great spaces in which to paint, and both
chose to paint great frescoes. Indeed Ghir-
landajo had the extraordinary ambition to put
frescoes on all the fortification walls about
Florence. It certainly would have made the
city a great picture gallery to have had its walls
forever himg with the pictures of one master.
Had he painted them, inside and out, when such
an enemy as Napoleon came along, with his love
of art, and his fashion of taking all that he saw
to Paris, he would likely enough have camped
outside the walls while he decided what part of
the gallery he would transfer to the Louvre.
One of the reasons that Ghirlandajo is famous
is that he often chose well known personages
for his models, and as he painted just what
he saw, did not idealise his subject, he gave
to the world amazing portraits, as well as fine
paintings. The same thing was done by-
painters of a far different school, at another
period. The Dutch and Flemish painters
were in the habit of using their neighbours
Ghirlandajo is classed among religious
painters, but let us compare some of his
"religious" paintings w^th those of Raphael
or Murillo, and see the result.
He painted seven frescos on the walls of the
Santa Maria Novella in Florence, all scenes
of Biblical history, as Ghirlandajo imagined
them. They show him to have been a fine
artist, but to have had not much idea of history,
and to have had little sense of fitness.
Ghirlandajo 's seven subjects are taken from
legends of the Virgin, and the greatest repre-
sents Mary's visit to Elizabeth; it is called
"The Visitation," and it is a fresco about
eighteen feet long painted on the choir wall.
Let us imagine the possible scene. The
Virgin Mary came from Cana, a little town in
Galilee placed in the hills about nine miles
from Nazareth, the home of the lowliest and
the poorest, of a kindly pastoral people living
ii6 Pictures Every Child Should Know
in the open air, needing and wanting very
little, simple in their habits. Elizabeth, Mary's
old cousin, lived in Judea, and St. Luke writes
thus: **Mary arose in those days and went
into the hill country with haste, into a city
of Judea; and entered into the house of Zach-
arias" (Elizabeth's husband) "and saluted
This record had been made at least eleven
himdred years before Ghirlandajo painted in the
Santa Maria Novella, and from it one cannot
imagine that Mary made any preparation for
her journey, nor does it suggest that Elizabeth
had any chance to arrange a reception for her.
Even had she done so, it must have been of
the simplest description, at that time among
those people. One can imagine a lowly home ;
an aged woman coming out to meet her young
relative either at her door or in the high road.
There may have been surroundings of fruit
and flowers, a stretch of highroad or a hospi-
table doorway; but the wildest imagination
could not picture what Ghirlandajo did.
He paints Elizabeth flanked with hand-
maidens, as if she were some royal personage,
instead of a priest's w4fe in fairly comfortable
circumstances where comfort was easily
obtained. Mary appears to be escorted by
ladies-in-waiting, hardly a likely circumstance
since she was affianced to no richer or more
important person than a carpenter of Galilee.
Possibly the three ladies that stand behind
Mary in the picture are merely lookers-on,
but in that case the visit of Mary would seem
to have been of public importance, especially
as there are youths near by who are also much
interested in one woman's hasty visit to another.
The rich brocades worn by Elizabeth's waiting
ladies are splendid indeed and the landscape
is fine â€” a rich Italian landscape with archi-
tecture of the most up-to-date sort â€” showing,
in short, that the artist lacked historical
imagination. He found some models, made a
purely decorative painting with an Italian
setting and called it ''The Visitation." The
doorway on the right is distinctly renaissance.
Such a painting as this is not ''religious,"
nor is it historic, nor does it suggest a subject ;
it is merely a fine picture better coloured than
most of those of the Florentine school. There
is another painting of this same subject by
Ghirlandajo in the Louvre, but it is no nearer
truth than the one in the Santa Maria.
Ghirlandajo painted other than religious
subjects, and one of them, at least, is quite
repulsive. It is the picture of an old man,
with a beautiful little child embracing him.
The old man may have tenderness and love in
his face, but his heavy features, his warty
nose, do not make one think of pleasant
things and one does not care to imagine the
dear little child kissing the grotesque old fellow.
It was before Ghirlandajo 's time that another
painter had discovered the use of oil in mixing
ii8 Pictures Every Child Should Know
paints. Previously colours had been mixed
in water with some gelatinous substance, such
as the white and yolk of an egg, to give the
paint a proper texture or consistency. This
preparation was called "distemper," and fres-
coes w^ere made by using this upon plaster
while it was still wet. Plaster and colours dried
together, and the painting became a part of
the wall, not to be removed except by taking
the plaster with it.
The different gluey substances used had
often the effect of making the colours lose their
tone and they presented a glazed surface when
used upon wood, a favourite material with
There are numberless anecdotes written of this '
artist and his brother, and one of these shows
he had a temper. The brothers were engaged in
a monastery at Passignano painting a picture
of the "Last Supper." While at work upon it,
they lived in the house. The coarse fare did
not suit Ghirlandajo, and one night he could
endure it no longer. Springing from his seat in
the refectory he flung the soup all over the monk
who had served it, and taking a great loaf of
bread he beat him with it so hard that the poor
monk was carried to his cell, nearly dead. The
abbot had gone to bed, but hearing the rumpus
he thought it was nothing less than the roof
falling in, and he hurried to the room where he
found the brothers still raging over their dinner.
David shouted out to him, when the abbot tried
to reprove the artist, that his brother was worth
more than any *'pig of an abbot who ever
It is recorded in the documents found in the
Confraternity of St. Paul that:
Domenico de Chiirrado Bighordi, painter, called del
Grillandaio, died on Saturday morning, on the nth day
of January, 1493 (o.s.)f of a pestilential fever, and the
overseers allowed no one to see the dead man, and would
not have him buried by day. So he was buried, in Santa
Maria Novella, on Saturday night after sunset, and may
God forgive him! This was a very great loss for he was
highly esteemed for his many qualities, and is universally
The artist left nine children behind him.
Ghirlandajo's pictures may be found in the
Louvre, the Berlin Museum, the Dresden,
Munich, and London galleries. Most children
will find it hard to see their beauty.
Great men are likely to come in groups, and
with Ghirlandajo there are associated Botticelli
and Fra Filippo Lippi.
PLATE â€” PORTRAIT OF GIOVANNA DEGLI ALBIZI
This lovely lady was the wife of one of the
painter's patrons, Giovanni Tomabuoni, through
whom he received the commission for a series of
frescoes in the choir of the Santa Maria Novella,
Florence. The subjects chosen were sacred, but
since Ghirlandajo, no more than his neighbours,
knew what the Virgin or her contemporaries
looked like, he saw no reason why he should not
120 Pictures Every Child Should Know
compliment some of the great ones of his own
city and his own time by painting them in to
represent the different characters of Holy Writ.
So, as one of the ladies attendant upon Elizabeth