Gainsborough is one of the most appealing artists of the eighteenth century. Renowned for such elegant portraits as The Blue Boy and Countess Howe, he also pioneered a new form of landscape with a moody sensibility that prefigured the Romantic movement. He was a brilliant draftsman, and his art is full of inventiveness and visual delight.
William Vaughan draws on recently discovered material to provide a fresh perspective on both the life and art of this master. He shows how closely Gainsborough's innovative manner can be connected to social and political developments in Britain, in particular the celebration of original genius in a time of burgeoning entrepreneurial commercialism. Above all, he demonstrates how, beneath the artist's charm, there lay a bedrock of shrewd observation and pictorial intelligence that gives his work a value for all time.
William Vaughan is a British Art Historian and has been Emeritus Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck College, University of London since 2003.
Introduction: Effect and Substance Part I: Suffolk - Origins - Learning the Business - The Suffolk Practice - Places and Pastorals - Conversations - Scaling Up Part II: Bath - The Bath Practice - The 'Magick' Studio - Music - The Old Masters - Grand Portraits - The English Arcadia Part III: London - The London Practice - Academy and Exhibition - Royal Patronage - Family Problems - Romantic Women and Painted Ladies - Nature and Fancy - Death and the Woodman Epilogue: The Name of Gainsborough