Michael Jackson as The Blue Boy
A little history of the painting' "The Blue Boy" by Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough painted the "The Blue Boy" in 1770. No one is sure who the boy iwas, but he was believed to be the son of a wealthy merchant. The young man is in elegant period dress from the 17th century, and it is believed it was as a tribute to Van Dyck from Van Dyck's portrait of Charles II as a boy. There is or was also a rumor it was painted in response to rival Joshua Reynolds who once wrote about how a good painting would never have a cool color as the light and focus. "The Blue Boy" was in various British private collections until in 1921 it was sold to the American railway pioneer,, Henry Edwards Huntington, for what was then the largest sum ever paid for a painting. (argued between $182,200 and $640,00),That the painting would leave England outraged the public. In 1922 it did and was hung in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, where it remains to this day. It was so much in the news at that time, Cole Porter wrote a song about it called, "The Blue Boy Blues."
My thoughts and reasons for painting my version with Michael Jackson
Because the "The Blue Boy" is so famous, (At one point almost everyone's grandmother had a copy hanging on the wall. I know mine did.) I think it fitting to portray Michael Jackson as an updated version. Why? The boy originally was painted in very fancy dress not worn by his contemporaries. He was thought of as a "pretty" boy, and his image has become one of the best known by even those who know nothing of art. The painting and Michael have caused extensive media coverage and controversy..The painting and the man became larger than life with both always in the news. One other thought crossed my mind as I was painting. The controversy in 1922 was not about the young man in the painting but of the icon it had become. The newsworthiness of Jackson is now more about the controversial icon he was or is rather than the musical wonder he was at one time.
To read more about how I painted this painting with images of the various stages as well as more thoughts as to why and what I thought about it, please go to John's Blog.