Wooded landscape with herdsman, cows and sheep
Landscapes offered Gainsborough the chance to explore his interest in drawing and love of the countryside. If as a portraitist he was obliged to flatter and obey the sitter’s requests, in drawing landscapes his artistic freedom was liberated. Towards the end of his life, he 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 constructed 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”.
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