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Gainsborough in Bath: High Society and the Bath Season Mary Alexander Wednesday 21 February 2018

When Thomas Gainsborough moved to Bath in 1758 it was a bustling cosmopolitan spa centre experiencing a phenomenal building boom, attracting nobility and wealthy merchants alike, and described by Mrs Delany at the time as “the busiest idle place in the world”. The lecture explores how and why a young, entrepreneurial Gainsborough identified Bath as ‘the’ place from which to build his reputation. What was the experience like for those who jostled to sit to Mr Gainsborough during the Bath season? How did High Society entertain themselves? The focus will be on Gainsborough’s work in Bath, with contemporary journals and letters (including his own witty correspondence) and caricatures used to bring the city, its buildings and personalities to life. 

Mary Alexander has thirty years' experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and a MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London. Her experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, visiting lecturer at Christie's Education in London and museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies, she also worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events. Author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills. Lectured for ADFAS Australia and New Zealand in 2011 and 2013. Mary is an enthusiastic member and President of Glaven Valley DFAS.

Image of Thomas Gainsborough's Mary, Countess Howe (1760) courtesy of Kenwood House (English Heritage)