Thomas Gainsborough was one of England’s earliest “homegrown” geniuses. A boy prodigy, largely self-taught, witty, convivial, musical, Gainsborough was widely known and admired for his fluid handling of paint. He and Joshua Reynolds dominated portrait painting in the 1770s and 1780s. Exactly 100 years ago the iconic Blue Boy left English shores, sold to an American. Now it has returned to London’s National Gallery as the focal point of an Anthony van Dyck exhibition. This lecture will survey the whole of Gainsborough’s career with special emphasis on van Dyck’s influence and The Blue Boy in particular.