21st C The photograph above is how The Circus in Bath looks today. I wanted to show you how it appeared in Margaret Gainsborough's time. I have a picture by John Robert Cozens in front of me, drawn as if he were looking through the windows of this house, No. 17. He depicts a huge stone-paved circle surrounded by probably the most famous terraced houses in the world forming an outer circle, just as it does today. But there are no towering London Plane trees in the centre and not a blade of green grass to be seen. In this acquatint of 1773 the sense of empty, echoing space is paramount. There are two horse-drawn carriages shown, one heading into Brock Street to the right as seen from No. 17, the other coming out of Brock Street and heading for Gay Street, the coachman probably dreading the steep and slippery descent he faces to reach the heart of the town below. Where the trees now stand, there is a well provided for communal use. No trees, bushes, plants or flowers of any kind soften the stony landscape, but there is a female pedlar walking over the cobbles towards No. 17, her basket of wares balanced on her head. Is she aiming to sell to the kitchen maid below stairs? Further back a well-dressed male figure bows to two women, their long skirts trailing behind them and another female walks nearby carrying a large sunshade. But the picture is dominated by two sets of chairmen, one pair passing directly in front of this house. Each of the four men is bent forward, taking the strain on the carrying poles of the two sedan chairs to balance the weight of the hidden occupants. Why can't I show you this print? I wanted to include it here, together with Gainsborough's self-portait as a young man and his charming portraits of his wife and their children but no - the Society of Authors advised me (a long-time member) that if I did so I would be in danger of infringing copyright. Most of Gainsborough's original paintings of his family are held by major institutions all over the world who might well sue me for reproducing them here without permission. As many of you will know, the prices charged to obtain permission to publish are often exorbitant. So, sadly, I can't include them here. If you are interested in seeing what the family looked like just Google their names to find many of their portaits on line. But...taking a quick look at many personal sites on the internet, and seeing the wide range of images used to illustrate them, I wonder if, in this case, the Society of Authors has been, perhaps, a little too cautious?