Description - Gainsborough's Blue Boy by Christine Riding

This richly illustrated publication explores the lasting influence of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy on British art and culture

Marking the return of Gainsborough’s Blue Boy to the UK exactly 100 years since it left for the United States, this richly illustrated publication will explore the lasting influence of this iconic painting on British art and culture. During the nineteenth century, the painting’s fame grew and full-length portraits by Gainsborough and his contemporaries became much sought after by wealthy American collectors. The sale of The Blue Boy to the American railroad magnate and collector Henry E. Huntington in 1921 was unsurprisingly viewed as a national tragedy—emblematic of a shift in economic and cultural power. However, its afterlife, as a permanent ambassador for British art, has undoubtedly fed into ideas of Britain and Britishness—its history, society, culture and character—that still resonate today. Including a select group of paintings that demonstrate the profound influence of Sir Anthony van Dyck and the old master tradition on Gainsborough’s practice and identity, Gainsborough’s Blue Boy will examine this masterpiece within the context of the National Gallery’s collection.

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