Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman (Cincinnati Art Museum)

Benedict Leca (curator, editor, author), Cincinnati Art Museum (institution), D Giles Limited (London), 196 pages


Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman was a small, but intensely realized exhibition organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum under the brilliant scholarship of curator Benedict Leca. Although the show itself consisted of only eleven paintings, these works were reproduced in uncommon detail within the catalog. The design allows the reader to closely and slowly examine the canvases, looking for the subtle details that are explored in the three accompanying essays. Horizontal and vertical sections of the paintings are reproduced across sequences of spreads adding visual renewal to paintings that many have come to dismiss with modern eyes. The biggest challenge for the catalog was to acquire images large enough to make these super details possible. Since most museums now trade in digital images, any enlargements beyond typical bounds requires a lot of planning and effort.

For his essay, “A Favourite among the Demireps,” Leca was awarded first place in the Outstanding Article, Essay or Extended Catalogue Entry category from the Association of Art Museum Curators Awards for Excellence.

Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman