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‘Writing the Lives of Painters’Biography and Artistic Identity in Britain 1760-1810$
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Karen Junod

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199597000

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597000.001.0001

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Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough

Life in a Sketch, Sketch of a Life

(p.153) 5 Thomas Gainsborough
‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Karen Junod (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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