Thomas Browne

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Thomas Browne

The oil painting on canvas by the Exeter artist William Gandy (c.1650-1729) shows Thomas the son of Susannah Browne of Combsatchfield. Thomas was born c.1660 and died in 1728.

Richard Davin, a costume expert, comments:

“Painted in 1720, when Thomas Brown was 29 years old, this portrait was commissioned to celebrate his marriage to Philippa Musgrave; he may have been depicted in the clothes that he wore on the day."

"Blue was a popular colour for gentlemen’s velvet coats and also beginning to be a colour associated with weddings: ‘something borrowed, something blue’. Mr Brown contrasts his coat with a colourful waistcoat of richly brocaded silk. However, the two items are united by matching silver buttons, those on the waistcoat being of a slightly smaller size. Any of these items could have been purchased in Exeter at the time, although silk for the waistcoat was perhaps woven at Spitalfields, London. Fine linen was considered the mark of a gentleman and it is probably French needle lace that trims Thomas Brown’s shirt ruffles and cravat. Except informally, Thomas would always have worn a curled wig, very likely owning more than one. Finally, at his left hip, one can see the hilt of his sword, an accepted item of male formal dress until the mid 18th century.”

Acknowledgments: Ram Museum