Celebrated artist Maggi Hambling was so inspired by childhood visits to Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury it helped decide her future career.
The masterpieces on display opened her eyes to the possibilities of painting and left an impression she has never forgotten.
Now the artist, who grew up in Hadleigh, is returning the favour by helping Thomas Gainsborough’s birthplace museum survive to inspire a new generation.
She has donated a painting to be raffled to raise money for an £8 million expansion appeal.
“The experience of seeing great painting for the first time remains with me to this day,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe that cows or clouds, woods or dogs, trees or land could be made so real with paint ... or that so much activity could take place on such a small scale, within a gold frame.”
“That transformational potential is what we want to develop to inspire a new generation,” said the museum’s director Mark Bills.
Maggi Hambling’s picture, Sun on Breaking Summer Wave, can be seen at Gainsbororough’s House until November 8.
The fundraising raffle is a joint venture between the museum and NADFAS – the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.
Tickets cost £20, with the draw taking place on December 4, so that the winner can have the painting in time for Christmas.
One hundred runners-up will win a single yearly Friends Membership of Gainsborough’s House, providing free entry and access to a special events.
Gainsborough’s House – a museum and gallery for over 50 years – now needs major expansion to cope with rising visitor numbers, reflect the international importance of Thomas Gainsborough, and be part of Sudbury’s revival, said Mr Bills.