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Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman

Published by GILES in association with Cincinnati Art Museum


Published — (UK and USA)

Dimensions — 196 pages, 279 × 229 mm (9 × 11 in.), portrait

Illustrations — 105 colour

Format — Hardback

ISBN — 978-1-904832-85-0

Press Release — “A Favourite among the Demireps”

News  —  Author of Thomas Gainsborough book wins award

            —  New book nominated for prestigious prize

            —  Gainsborough exhibition to move to San Diego...

Sales Points

"A welcome addition to the libraries of scholars and general readers alike. The catalogue’s clear prose is supplemented by sumptuous, full-color plates and extraordinarily high-resolution details, offering a worthy substitute for individuals who did not see the exhibition, or a handsome aide-mémoire for those who did" Susan M. Wager, Enfilade “…the wealth of illustrations, which include many details of the exhibits, gives the publication a sumptuousness that parallels the experience of the exhibition” Hugh Belsey, The Burlington Magazine "A book which demonstrates how dress history can illuminate and strengthen discussion of portraiture in galleries and museums." "Exceptionally well illustrated" Valerie Cumming, Costume The shows catalogue is "excellent". Los Angeles Times "...a compelling read" Antiques and the Arts Weekly A "beautifully illustrated catalogue" Antiques and Fine Arts "As an authority on period costume, Ribeiro offers an essay that is rich in observations" Choice

About the Book

Focusing specifically on Thomas Gainsborough’s portraits of well-known, “liberated”, society women, Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman draws us away from his predominant reputation as a landscape painter. It shows how such portraits were both an affirmation by Gainsborough of his own position in the artistic world of Georgian England, and of the desire of his famous, and often notorious, sitters to be seen as self-assured progressive women. Author Benedict Leca takes as his starting point the Cincinnati Art Museum’s famous and newly restored portrait of Ann Ford (1760). Widely considered the finest of the masterpiece portraits created by Gainsborough at Bath in the early 1760s, it typifies the artist's comparatively permissive attitude with regard to how women should be presented, and offers a compelling view of the manner of painting that established the artist as the foremost portraitist of modern life. Featuring portraits from international collections, including Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery, London, this new volume also includes an essay by Aileen Ribeiro examining the portrait of Ann Ford in detail, and by Amber Ludwig discussing the role of feminine identity in 18th-century London.

About the Author(s)

Benedict Leca is curator of European painting, sculpture and drawings at Cincinnati Art Museum. A specialist in the art and culture of 18th- and 19th-century France, he participated in the organization of the exhibitions A Decade of Collecting at the Fogg Art Museum (2000); Cézanne in Provence at the National Gallery of Art (2006) and in Cincinnati organized Rembrandt: Three Faces of the Master in 2008. Aileen Ribeiro is professor emerita of History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. A leading authority and consultant on 18th-century dress, she is the author of Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 1715-1789 (2002), The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France, 1750-1820 (1995) and Dress and Morality (1986). Amber Ludwig is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at Boston University. Her field of study includes the creation and reception of portraits of Emma Hamilton and the ways in which the art of portraiture helped to fashion her public identity.