Thomas Gainsborough (British, 17271788)
Oil on canvas; 47 3/8 x 58 1/8 in. (120.3 x 147.6 cm)
Gift of George A. Hearn, 1906 (06.1279)
Gainsborough first saw seventeenth-century Dutch landscapes as a young apprentice in London in the early 1740s. He made a drawing after one of them, a forest scene by Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/291682), the Dutch artist whose work he most admired. By 1748, he had returned to his native Suffolk and was an accomplished landscape painter and draftsman. However, he was uninterested in the English tradition of topographical painting. Commissions for landscapes based on the Dutch model were few, and for his livelihood he was forced to turn to conversation pieces and portraiture. Gainsborough made his reputation as a portraitist in Bath, to which he moved in 1759, and in London, where he spent the last fourteen years of his life. His later landscapes are broadly painted and evocative. Informed by his lifelong interest in nature, they were nevertheless composed in the studio. This idyllic imaginary view and the chalk sketch on which it is based were probably made in London in 1783. The delicate washes of pastel coloring are typical.