• 29 to 30 October 2015
  • 9:30 – 7:00 pm
  • A two-day conference split between London and Sudbury, Suffolk
  • Sotheby's Institute of Art (London) & Gainsborough's House (Sudbury)

29th - 30th October 2015

This two-day conference, sponsored by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, examines the role and character of artists’ painting rooms in the long eighteenth century. It is organised in association with an exhibition focusing on the painting room that is to be held at Gainsborough’s House between October 2015 and January 2016.

The conference aims to bring together current scholarship on the nature of the painting room, primarily in Britain but also in France, which was a constant model for British artists. The first day, to be held at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, considers the varying character and function of the painting room in London, Bath and Paris: how it was used, how it was seen by outsiders, and how artists exploited it to create spaces for the display and sale of their work. Detailed studies of the painting rooms of Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Wright of Derby will help to illustrate these arguments. The second day of the conference, which will take place at Sudbury, will focus more particularly on the example of Thomas Gainsborough. Speakers will consider technical issues such as the use of materials, lay figures, drapery and costumes within the painting room, together with the role of the copy. This second day will also feature a discussion of the relationship between the painting room and the modern-day artist’s studio.

The aim of the conference as a whole is to explore the distinctive world of the Georgian painting room, and to complement the innovative recreation of such an environment within the exhibition at Gainsborough’s House.

When and Where

DAY 1 – Thursday 29th October

To be held at Sotheby’s Institute of Art (30 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3EE)

Nearest tube stations: Tottenham Court Road and Goodge Street

DAY 2 – Friday 30th October

To be held at Gainsborough’s House (46 Gainsborough St, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2EU)

Nearest station: Sudbury (5 mins walk from there to Gainsborough’s House)


Tickets include refreshments, lunch and a drinks reception on both days.

Tickets will not be sold separately for each day; attendees must commit to both days.

Please note your ticket does not include your travel to Sudbury on Day 2 and we kindly ask you to make your own way there. If you are travelling from London to Sudbury, the conference organisers will be travelling on the train stated on the timetable, if you wish to join them.

If you are travelling to the conference from outside London, please ensure arrival at Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, between 9.30 -10.00am.

If you are making your way by car Gainsborough’s House has a few parking spaces (first come, first served). There is parking next to the train station which is £2 for the day.