William Hazlitt. Criticisms on Art: And Sketches of the Picture Galleries of England. London, 1843, p. 194 [2nd ed., 1856, p. 194], quotes the Morning Chronicle, in which he reviewed the 1814 Gainsborough exhibition and gave preference to "Cottage Children" among the fancy pictures.
George Williams Fulcher. Life of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. London, 1856, p. 192.
Early Exhibitions of Art in Liverpool with Some Notes for a Memoir of George Stubbs, R.A. Liverpool, 1876, p. 76.
Engravings from the Works of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. by J. Scott, G. H. Every, G. Sanders, and Other Eminent Engravers. London, n.d. [ca. 1880], unpaginated, no. 112, ill., publishes an 1868 engraving by G. H. Every after Lord Carnarvon's "Cottage Children".
F[rederic]. G[eorge]. Stephens. Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. Exh. cat., Grosvenor Gallery. London, 1885, p. 45, no. 82, as "Cottage children, including portraits of Charles Marsham, afterwards Earl of Romney, and two of his sisters".
L[éon]. Roger-Milès. Cent chefs-d'oeuvre des collections françaises et étrangères. Paris, 1892, no. 31, ill. opp. p. 38 (engraving).
Walter Armstrong. Gainsborough & His Place in English Art. London, 1898, pp. 126, 157, 184, 204 [popular ed., New York, 1904, pp. 168, 211, 250, 284–85], attributes the painting to the last few years of the Bath period, that is, the 1770s, and notes that there is a "small sketch or replica" in the Vernon Collection at the National Gallery.
Masters in Art: Gainsborough 2 (1901), p. 39.
William T[homas]. Whitley. Thomas Gainsborough. New York, 1915, pp. 242, 291–92, 294, quotes Henry Bate-Dudley's admiring account of the picture, which he saw at Schomberg House in November 1787 and which had already been sold to Lord Porchester; identifies the boy as "the Richmond child, Jack Hill"; mentions the sketch or study in the Vernon Collection at the National Gallery and notes that it was probably this study that was exhibited at the Liverpool Society in autumn 1787.
E. Rimbault Dibdin. Thomas Gainsborough, 1727–1788. London, 1923, p. 161.
C. H. Collins Baker. British Painting. London, 1933, p. 279.
H[arry]. B. W[ehle]. "Paintings Lent from the Harkness Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 28 (January 1933), p. 12.
Chauncey Brewster Tinker. Painter and Poet: Studies in the Literary Relations of English Painting, The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1937–1938. Cambridge, Mass., 1938, p. 88.
Martin Davies. National Gallery Catalogues: The British School. London, 1946, p. 56, proposes that the painting may have been shown in Liverpool in August 1787.
Ellis K. Waterhouse. "Gainsborough's 'Fancy Pictures'." Burlington Magazine 88 (June 1946), p. 140, no. 11, notes that the painting remained with the Earls of Carnarvon until 1924; describes the Vernon picture as an "engraver's version (it was not, in fact, engraved)".
Ellis Waterhouse. Gainsborough. London, 1958, p. 104, no. 807, pl. 281.
Isabelle Worman. Thomas Gainsborough: A Biography 1727–1788. Lavenham, 1976, pp. 108, 122.
John Barrell. The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730–1840. Cambridge, 1980, pp. 82–84, 170 n. 83, ill., as one of Gainsborough's late paintings of the children of the poor who, assuming they were industrious, were regarded with benevolence in the writings of the period.
Jack Lindsay. Thomas Gainsborough: His Life and His Art. New York, 1981, pp. 171, 193–94, 223 n. 16.
Ann Bermingham. Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition, 1740–1860. Berkeley, 1986, pp. 52, 54, fig. 26, reproduces it as an illustration of Gainsborough's romantic vision of the vulnerability and innocence of childhood; points out that the fancy pictures are closely related to the society portraits of the same date.
Thomas Gainsborough. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara, 1998, p. 166, remarks that the popularity of the fancy pictures was assured by the immediate sale of this painting at a high price.
Michael Rosenthal. The Art of Thomas Gainsborough: 'a little business for the Eye'. New Haven, 1999, p. 254.
Antonello Cesareo in Flavio Caroli. Il gran teatro del mondo: l'anima e il volto del Settecento. Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale. Milan, 2003, pp. 604–5, no. II.170, ill. (color).
Ann Bermingham in Sensation & Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough's "Cottage Door". Exh. cat., Yale Center for British Art, Yale University. New Haven, 2005, pp. 6–8, fig. 9 (color), states that Murillo's images of beggar children inspired Gainsborough's fancy pictures.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 110–12, no. 49, ill. pp. x (gallery installation, color), 111 (color), calls it "Cottage Children (The Wood Gatherers)".