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    Sale 7448

    Old Master and British Pictures

    7 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 242

    Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. (Sudbury 1727-1788 London)

    An old peasant with a donkey in a wooded landscape

    Price Realised  


    Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. (Sudbury 1727-1788 London)
    An old peasant with a donkey in a wooded landscape
    oil on canvas
    19¾ x 15 5/8 in. (50.3 x 38.7 cm.)
    in a contemporary pierced serpentine frame

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    Uvedale Prince (1747-1829), a leading theorist of the 'Picturesque' movement, commented that while Gainsborough was 'at times severe and sarcastic when we have come near to cottages and village scenes with groups of children and objects of rural life that struck his fancy, I have observed his countenance take on an expression of gentleness and complacency.' (cited in M. Rosenthal, M. Myrone, Gainsborough, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London, October 2002-September 2003, p. 212).

    This painting can be dated stylistically to circa 1754, shortly after Gainsborough's move from Sudbury in 1752 to the trading port and market town of Ipswich, with its larger pool of prospective clients. Like many of his early works, this painting is informed by both Dutch 17th century genre painting and the French rococo style of Watteau, however, as a portait of an aged peasant, it is unique in Gainsborough's oeuvre. The nearest comparison would be Wooded Landscape with Old Peasant and Donkeys outside a Barn, Ploughshare and Distant Church, dated circa 1755-7 (private collection; Hayes, op. cit.), although the peasant is not the sole focus of the composition. These paintings can be seen as the beginnings of a theme that Gainsborough later developed in his fancy pictures.

    We are grateful to Hugh Belsey for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Rev. Boldon.
    Mrs Somers Smith, by whom sold to R.S. Bond, Surbiton, in 1896.
    Anonymous sale; Knight, Frank and Rutley, 21 May 1954, lot 22.
    with Spink & Son, London, 1955 (sold to Drown).
    Mrs H.W. Standring, Warwick, by 1958; Sotheby's, London, 19 July 1978, lot 21.


    The Connoisseur, March 1955, LVIII.
    E.K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, London, 1958, p. 105, no. 816a., fig. 35.
    J. Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough: A Critical Text and Catalogue Raisonné, II, London, 1982, p. 393, under no. 58.


    London, Greater London Council, The French Taste in English Painting during the first half of the 18th Century, Summer Exhibition 1968, no. 40 (lent by H.L. Standring).
    Romania and Hungary, The British Council, British Portraits, 1971-3 (lent by Mr and Mrs Standling).