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Bonington was trained in France, and indeed spent morst of his short life there. His father had moved the family from Nottingham to Calais to set up a lace-manufacturing business when Bonington was still a teenager. Bonington's fellow artists greatly admired his watercolours for their sureness of touch and sparkling luminosity. Some of the finest of them relate to a tour he made in northern Italy in 1826 with his patron Baron Charles Rivet. This example shows one of Verona's famous squares, enlivened with market stalls. It reveals the impressive range of Bonington's technique: vivacious underdrawing and rich contrasts of colour; fine strokes of the brush for structure and accent (his so-called 'touche coquette'); and broken wash layers of dry colour.

August 2004