Wooded landscape with herdsman, cows and sheep

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Wooded landscape with herdsman, cows and sheep

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Wooded landscape with herdsman, cows and sheep

Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788)


Towards the end of his life, Gainsborough wrote to a friend of his desire to retire to “some sweet village, where I can paint Landskips”. However, his career kept him in London until his death. He liked to construct imaginary landscapes by grouping small stand-ins, such as coal for rocks and broccoli for trees, in rhythmic compositions. As he described, figures like the herdsman were placed “to create a little business for the eye to be drawn from the trees in order to return to them with more glee”. Landscape drawings offered Gainsborough the chance to explore his love of drawing and of the countryside.


Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788), Wooded landscape with herdsman, cows and sheep, 1784-85 © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

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