Thomas Gainsborough, Blue Boy
, oil on canvas, 1770
(Huntington Gallery, California)
Whether one looks at the endless shades of blue in Lucky or the countless tones of brown in Blue Boy, the indefinite detail of the skyscape or landscape is left to our imagination. This characteristic lack of concrete definition is key to the sublime in art as it suggests the void of the unknown. By instinctive curiosity, we may then srutinize and ponder the mysterious depth of such works of art. As the baroque precursor of the sublime par excellence, one only needs to remember the teeming shadows of Rembrandt. And yet again in the late eighteenth century, Thomas Gainsborough's romantic landscape in Blue Boy prefigured the postmodern sublime at play in the skyscape of Francis Berry's Self Portrait: Lucky, an acrylic painting, and its preliminary study, Lucky in the Postmodern Art Gallery.