About the Exhibition

Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727–1788), Study of Mallows, mid- to late-1750s. Graphite with stumping on paper, with gum fixative. Clark Art Institute. Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007.8.65
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. Together, the sixteen drawings on view in Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark demonstrate how the artist championed an imaginative approach over naturalistic detail and reveal his fascination with mixed-media technique.