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2:1 What is the Culture of Sensibility?

This week we examine in detail Thomas Gainsborough’s much loved Portrait of an officer of the Fourth Regiment of Foot, the portrait of Richard St George Mansergh-St George in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Here we consider how Gainsborough produced his portrait of the young soldier through the ideals associated with the culture of sensibility, so much a part of late eighteenth century ruling class culture. How is the concept of the ‘man of feeling’ utilised in Gainsborough’s enigmatic portrait? What is the relevance of Gainsborough’s focus upon the soldier’s hound? What does the picture tell us about masculinity and the way the culture of sensibility was gendered in eighteenth century Britain?

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