DUPONT, Gainsborough

1754 - 1797

Gainsboroughj Dupont

Baptised at St Peter's church, Sudbury on 28 April 1754, the third of the five children of Philip Dupont (c.1722–1788), carpenter, and his wife, Sarah (bap. 1715-1795), daughter of John Gainsborough and his wife, Mary née Burrough. He was a nephew of the artist Thomas Gainsborough to whom he was apprenticed at Bath on 14 January 1772. He moved to London with his uncle two years later and on 6 March 1775 entered the Royal Academy Schools, and thereafter became his uncle's studio assistant. During the first fifteen years of his career documented work is rare, but according to a letter from Gainsborough of 29 November 1784, Dupont painted a copy of John Vanderbank's portrait of Queen Caroline for the Earl of Sandwich. He made mezzotints after his uncle's portraits, the earliest known being of Sir Richard Perryn, published in December 1779. He also painted small-scale copies of his uncle's portraits and fancy pictures, either as a preparation for future prints or as a means of keeping a record of those which Gainsborough painted in the 1780’s. After his uncle's death in 1788, Dupont continued to work from his studio at Schomberg House until 1793, when he moved to 17 Grafton Street, Fitzroy Square. He exhibited at the Royal Academy 1790-1795 and patronised by William Pitt and the royal family but was reputably too shy and nervous to inherit Gainsborough’s practice. The similarity between his work and that of his uncle's in both drawings and paintings has often created problems of attribution however, he was able to turn this to his advantage and provide the market with Gainsboroughesque works into the 1790s. By 1793 Dupont's style had become more personal, and he embarked on two important portrait commissions. Thomas Harris (d.1820), proprietor of the Covent Garden Theatre, commissioned him to paint a series of theatrical portraits that were completed by 1795 and included John Quick as Spado and Alexander Pope as Hamlet. A number of these works were later acquired by the Garrick Club, London. The Corporation of Trinity House commissioned an immense group portrait, known as ‘The Great Court Painting’ (1793–5), commemorating the approval of the designs for a new Trinity House and showing the elder brethren with the architect, Samuel Wyatt. Dupont died, after a short illness, at his home, 17 Grafton Street, London on 4 January 1797 and was buried beside his uncle at St Anne's, Kew.




Works by This Painter