Art: Genius Defined

Until recently, it was commonly thought that the importance of the art of England in the 18th and early 19th centuries lay almost entirely in those large and aristocratic portraits—Reyn-oldses, Gainsboroughs, Raeburns—that are found in every great museum. Today scholars and connoisseurs have set the record straight: not only was the art of England infinitely more than portraits, but it marked a high point in the history of Western art in general. Last week a superb exhibition of some 300 English oils, plus 138 watercolors and drawings, was on display at the Virginia...

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