Earliest known Gainsborough self-portrait sells for £116,460

Sam Russell, PA
·1-min read

The earliest known self-portrait by 18th-century British painter Thomas Gainsborough has sold at auction for £116,460 – around double its pre-sale estimate.

Gainsborough (1727-88) is thought to have created the artwork aged 13 in 1740, soon after moving to London from Sudbury in Suffolk.

A London-based buyer, who bid by telephone, bought the painting at the Cheffins Fine Sale in Cambridge on Wednesday for £116,460.

The price includes the buyers’ premium of 24.5% and VAT.

Its pre-sale estimate had been between £40,000 and £60,000.

Nicolas Martineau, Auctioneer at Cheffins, said: “This painting saw a great deal of interest ahead of the auction, with inquiries from private collectors and institutions worldwide.

“As the leading portrait painter of the 18th century, this important work from Gainsborough’s early career represents an exciting glimpse into his development as an artist and what potentially was to come.

“It has been a privilege to offer the work at auction here at Cheffins in Gainsborough’s native East Anglia.”

Gainsborough was a weaver’s son who became a founding member of the Royal Academy.

Among his portraits were King George III and Queen Charlotte.

The self-portrait had been held by a London-based private collection since 2008 and has previously been exhibited at Tate Britain, The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.