Gainsborough was a friend to fellow landscape artist De Loutherbourg. Both artists engaged in work for theatres and the two probably met via David Garrick, the actor-manger of Drury Lane.

In the present portrait we see De Loutherbourg at ease, in a fleeting moment of contemplation with his arms resting on portfolios of paper, possibly drawings. Considered unfinished by some, the portrait's charm lies in this informality: here is an example of Gainsborough exercising his artistic freedom to depict his friend as he wishes. De Loutherbourg's reciprocal portrait of Gainsborough is at the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven.


  • Title: Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg
  • Date: c. 1777-78
  • Physical Dimensions: w632 x h765 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Nationality: British
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Noel Desenfans, 1791/2-1807: Evening Mail inventory, 1791-1792 (Parlour, 'Portrait of Mr. Loutherbourg'); London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807-1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: Philippe Jaques De Loutherbourg (1740-1812) was a French landscape painter and scenic designer who settled in London in 1771. He was a friend of Gainsborough who exhibited this portrait at the Royal Academy in 1778.
  • Artist: Gainsborough, Thomas
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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