Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727-1788
Title: Portrait of James Quin (1693-1766), Actor
Date: 1763
Medium: Oil on canvas
231 x 150 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1904
Object Number: NGI.565
Label TextQuin was a renowned Shakespearian actor, famous for his declamatory style. His slow, impressive delivery and large figure gave him great stage presence. He made his first stage appearance in Dublin at the Smock Alley Theatre in 1712, but made his name at Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatres in London. In the 1740s his supremacy was challenged by David Garrick, who favoured a new, more naturalistic style of acting. Michael Rysbrack’s bust of Shakespeare can be seen in the background. Gainsborough’s fellow artist Ozias Humphry described the portrait as being ‘of uncommon fire and vigour’.