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This is a modern introduction to the art of Thomas Gainsborough, who was one of England’s greatest artists and the creator, with Joshua Reynolds, of an independent English school. Gainsborough has long been a popular and attractive figure in the history of English art, but this book shows that he was more than the well-known painter of The Blue Boy. His role as a prototype for the modern idea of the ‘artist as romantic’ is discussed, while his deep knowledge of the art of the past is revealed to demonstrate his eclectic yet individual reworking of older styles. Gainsborough’s own personal style, based on the early eighteenth-century example of the French rococo, was developed by him into a highly imaginative art which – with his love of music – had analogies with musical improvisation.