Thomas Gainsborough
Landscape with Herdsman Driving Cows and Distant Buildings
Mid to late 1780s

Black chalk over brush and gray wash with lead white on beige laid paper, fixed with gum
Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007.8.77

Thomas Gainsborough

Drawings at the Clark

December 1, 2018–March 17, 2019


About the Exhibition


Though recognized as one of the most fashionable portrait painters of the eighteenth century, Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) made hundreds of drawings of the English landscape. Abounding with foliage, cottages, and pastoral figures—shepherds driving flocks of sheep and cows drinking from pools or streams along meandering paths—Gainsborough’s landscapes present an idealized view of country life. Rather than depicting specific locales, these lyrical sheets evoke the gentle woodland and heath of his native Suffolk, in the east, and later, the mountainous Lake District of Cumbria, in the northwest. Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark reveals the artist’s fascination with mixed-media technique: graphite, chalks, ink washes, watercolor, and oil paints intermingle on toned papers. Together, the sixteen drawings on view in the Clark’s Manton Gallery for British Art demonstrate how Gainsborough championed an imaginative approach over naturalistic detail.