Thomas Gainsborough, R.A.* (1727-1788)
Thomas Gainsborough, R.A.* (1727-1788)

A wooded Landscape with Herdsmen, Cows and Sheep near a Pool, figures outside a cottage beyond

Thomas Gainsborough, R.A.* (1727-1788)
Gainsborough, T.
A wooded Landscape with Herdsmen, Cows and Sheep near a Pool, figures outside a cottage beyond
oil on canvas
24 x 29in. (61 x 73.7cm.)
Purchased either by Robert Palmer (died 1787) or his only son Richard Palmer (died 1806) and by descent through
Robert Palmer, Holme Park, Berkshire, 1845, to
Mrs. Golding Palmer; Christie's, London, July 28, 1916, lot 26 (3400gns. to Agnews).
with Knoedler, 1916.
with Reinhardt, New York.
John N. Willys, New York, 1925 and by descent to the present owner.
G.W. Fulcher, Life of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A., 1856, p. 207.
E. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, p. 121, no. 996, fig. 272.
J. Mayne, Thomas Gainsborough's Exhibition Box in Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin, I, no. 3, July 1965, p. 24.
J. Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, 1982, I, pp. 182 and 229; II, pp. 563-4, no. 180, illustrated.
London, British Institution, 1845, no. 79 or 86.

Lot Essay

This magnificent landscape which dates to circa 1786, and its pendant Wooded rocky Landscape with Mounted Peasant (location unknown, Hayes, op. cit., no. 181) can be closely linked with A Wooded Landscape with Herdsmen and Three Cows, in the Tate Gallery, London (ibid., no. 179), also of the same date. The present painting is a variant of the Tate picture both in the disposition of the trees, the introduction of a mound with scattered sheep in the foreground and the replacement of the Park Gate in the Tate painting with a cottage with figures standing outside, which is more in keeping with the pastoral theme that Gainsborough had taken up by this time.

The loose soft handling of the foliage, the rich thickly encrusted sky and the broad lines of the composition with the herdsmen and the cows passing a pool are all typical of an artist whose late style can be characterized as Romantic and who had become increasingly affected by the feeling for the nobility of the country labourer as they went about their daily tasks.

Surprisingly, given the artist's critical acclaim during his last years, only ten of the fifty-five landscapes that are known from Gainsborough's London period can be shown to have been bought during the artist's lifetime. However, it is possible that the present painting and its pendant could be added to this small group. Robert Palmer was the wealthy principal London agent for the Duke of Bedford during the 1780's and he may have bought this painting directly from Gainsborough, rather than at a later date.