Karl Friedrich Abel

1 portrait

Karl Friedrich Abel, by Thomas Gainsborough, circa 1765 - NPG 5081 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Karl Friedrich Abel

by Thomas Gainsborough
black and white chalk with stump on blue paper, circa 1765
12 3/4 in. x 10 in. (324 mm x 254 mm)
Purchased, 1976
Primary Collection
NPG 5081


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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Portrait and landscape painter. Artist associated with 262 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Drawings enabled artists to refine compositions before committing paint to canvas. This lively drawing by Gainsborough of his friend Karl Abel, a musician, is a preliminary study for an oil painting. The bold, impressionistic handling shows that Gainsborough's draftsmanship had much in common with his painting style. Abel's clothes are, however, different in the final portrait and he holds a different musical instrument. This image therefore probably dates from an early sitting, representing Gainsborough's initial thoughts for the composition.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 5947: Karl Friedrich Abel (finished work)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 47
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 2

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