Gainsborough’s Blue Boy masterpiece coming home 100 years to the day since it was last seen

·1-min read
 (The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.)
(The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.)

A masterpiece of English painting lost to the nation a century ago is returning to the UK exactly 100 years to the day since it was last seen here.

Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy was last on show at the National Gallery on January 25, 1922, before being taken to America after it had been bought by US millionaire Henry E. Huntingdon.

The sale of the 18th century portrait caused a scandal at the time with around 90,000 people coming to the gallery to see it before it was shipped off and the gallery’s then director Charles Holmes writing Au Revoir on the back of the painting in the hope it would one day return.

 (© Courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California)
(© Courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California)

The work is now owned by the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California where it has been on display for the past century and has never been lent out until now.

It will go on show at the National Gallery in a free exhibition from January 25, 2022, until May 15 that year.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said: “The loan of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy to the National Gallery is truly exceptional and a unique opportunity for visitors to see Gainsborough at his dazzling best. Rich in historical resonances, a painting of supreme poise and elegance, The Blue Boy is without doubt a masterpiece of British art.”

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