Thomas Gainsborough

Ignatius Sancho

1768
Sancho (c. 1729–1780), born aboard a slave ship, was taken to England as a young child. He gained celebrity as a writer and composer, becoming among the most famous Africans in 18th-century Europe. This portrait is said to have taken Gainsborough only an hour and forty minutes – testament to his virtuosity. The tightly framed composition and pose are conventional, but Gainsborough has sensitively and carefully observed his sitter. The artist’s free, but skillful and intelligent touch – his hallmark – complements Sancho’s easy pose; such nonchalance and self-confidence were considered appropriate for men of status. Frame: running moulding with carved ornament, gilded. Britain, second-half 18th century
Title
Ignatius Sancho
Date
1768
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
73.7 x 62.2 cm
Nationality
British
Credit line
Purchased 1907
Accession number
58