Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk
Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk, the childhood home of the artist Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) which is now a museum and gallery. Run by a charity, it has embarked on a funding project to transform the Grade-I listed building into a national centre for the great portraitist.

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It will feature 130 lots donated from the estates and studios of some of Britain’s best-known artists including Maggi Hambling, Antony Gormley, Michael Ayrton, John Hoyland, Edward Bawden, Sarah Lucas and Julian Opie.

The sale is run by Gainsborough’s House, the museum and gallery housed in the birthplace and childhood home of the portraitist. The charitable trust which runs the museum is aiming to raise £8.5m to transform the Grade-I listed Georgian building into a national centre and exhibition venue with four new galleries and a performance venue.

In 2016, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Gainsborough’s House £4.73m towards the project and since then the charity has been working to secure the remaining funds. It says the project is not just needed to safeguard the long-term financial security of the museum and its important collection but also to establish the centre in the Suffolk market town as “an arts venue of global significance”.

The auction will take place at the Town Hall in Sudbury on October 20, with Colchester-based auction house Reeman Dansie providing support.

Among the works offer will be North Sea Rolling by Maggi Hambling (b.1945) – the Sudbury-born artist and patron of Gainsborough’s House who is spear-heading the project along with art critic Andrew Lambirth.

The painting, a view of the seas off the Suffolk coast, reflects the dominant subject in her work since 2002. “Early each morning I go down to the sea and try to capture its mood by drawing, and each day is different,” she said. “Back in the studio, these drawings become paintings. Whether they are tiny or cover the studio wall, I try to make the movement of the waves happen in the paint.”

The painting is estimated at £10,000-15,000.

Also on offer is a work on paper by Anthony Gormley (b.1950) titled Learning to See. Dating from 2014, it is signed, dated and numbered and carries an inscription on the verso ‘for gainsborough's house with best wishes 28.6.17 AMDG’.

House purchase

Gainsborough’s House is run by an independent charitable trust and the museum has been open to the public since 1961. Gainsborough’s House Society was formed in 1958 to purchase the house and it continues to be maintained by a devoted body of volunteers.

As well as its collection of pictures, objects and manuscripts, its garden is cultivated exclusively with plants that were available in Gainsborough’s lifetime.

While a selection of works being offered at the auction will be on display at Gainsborough’s House in the week leading up to the sale, the charity is also staging an art fair with over 100 original paintings and prints on sale at the Old Labour Exchange in Sudbury from October 14-20.

The auction catalogue can be viewed on thesaleroom.com and live online bidding is available.

gainsborough.org