Thomas Gainsborough

Karen Junod

in ‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199597000
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725357 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Thomas Gainsborough

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This chapter discusses the development of the sketch in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-entury Britain. By focusing on a wide variety of different narratives, including Philip Thicknesse's Sketch of the Life and Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough (1788) and other texts on the margins of the biographical form, this chapter explores the significance of the sketch – both in its visual and literary aspect – as a way of shaping and simultaneously undermining Gainsborough's artistic and biographical reputation during this period. This chapter also argues that the recurrence of the sketch in the construction of Gainsborough's posthumous life was part of a much wider discourse on the quintessential nature of British art.

Keywords: Gainsborough; Thicknesse; literary sketch; visual sketch; reputation; British art

Chapter.  10209 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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