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Samuel Kilderbee
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Samuel Kilderbee was a successful lawyer, Town Clerk of Ipswich, and BFF of Thomas Gainsborough.  

Kilderbee and Gainsborough might have grown up together (historical documentation is spotty, but their families lived near each other), and were definitely friends when Gainsborough moved to Ipswich in 1752.

Gainsborough did some of his most important early works in Ipswich, thanks in part to the patronage of Kilderbee.  He commissioned this large scale formal portrait, as well as half portraits of himself, his rather fetching wife Mary, and his look-alike son, Reverend Samuel Ipswich (now in the Art Gallery of New South Wales).

Gainsborough and Kilderbee frequently visited each other, and toured the English Lake Country together.  Gainsborough even named Kilderbee as the executor of his will, and Kilderbee was at Gainsborough’s deathbed when he expressed regret for his “liberal, thoughtless and dissipated” life.  Kilderbee must have known a thing or two about Gainsborough’s dissipation, because Gainsborough sent him a series of naughty letters described as “brilliant but eccentric, and too licentious to be published.”  The letters are now lost, probably burned by Kilderbee’s heirs.

In 2013, set designer Naomie Kremer asked the Legion of Honor for permission to use the collection for San Francisco Opera’s The Secret Garden, and this was one of the pieces featured.

Samuel Kilderbee’s grandson, after two generations of complicated marriages and acquisition of titles, ended up with the unlikely name of “Spencer Horsey de Horsey.”  Best name ever!