Art: Laureate of the Ruling Classes

In London, a delightful retrospective of Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough was the most popular portraitist in 18th century England, and the English still love him: in every way, the big Gainsborough retrospective now on view at London's Tate Gallery is a ceremony of national taste. Organized by Art Historian John Hayes, it traces Gainsborough's career from his beginnings as apprentice painter of homespun Suffolk dignitaries to his apotheosis as the most popular and sought-after portraitist of the Georgian ruling classes. There are more than 150 paintings and drawings, although some of his best-known work—like...

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