In painting this subject in Van Dyck dress, he was following an 18th-century fashion in painting, as well as doing homage to his hero.The influence of Van Dyck is most clearly seen in the more official portraits. Gainsborough preferred to paint his friends rather than public figures, and a group of portraits of the 1760s—Uvedale Price, Sir William St.Fairly soon he began to be noticed by the royal family and partly because of his informality and Tory politics was preferred by George III above the official court painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds.
When he was 13, he persuaded his father to send him to London to study on the strength of his promise at landscape.
He worked as an assistant to Hubert Gravelot, a French painter and engraver and an important figure in London art circles at the time.
Some sea pieces dating from the 1780s show a new kind of realism, harking back to the Dutch seascape tradition.
During his last years Gainsborough was haunted by his nostalgia for Arcadia in the English countryside and painted a series of pictures of peasant life more ideal than real, for example, , is less idealized and more true to nature and looks forward to Constable in its treatment of the light breaking through the massive foliage.
In many of the early landscapes the influence of Rococo design learned from Gravelot is evident, together with a feeling for the French pastoral tradition. Although Gainsborough preferred landscape, he knew he must paint portraits for economic reasons.
The small heads painted in Suffolk, although sometimes rather stiff, are penetrating character studies delicately and freely pencilled, particularly the jaunty self-portrait in a cocked hat at Houghton.
From him Gainsborough learned something of the French Rococo idiom, which had a considerable influence on the development of his style.
In 1746 in London he married Margaret Burr, the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Beaufort.
After he moved to Bath, Gainsborough had less time for landscape and worked a good deal from memory, often drawing by candlelight from little model landscapes set up in his studio.