Thomas Gainsborough’s Drawings
December 1, 2018 – March 17, 2019
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. Thomas Gainsborough: Drawings at the Clark reveals the artist’s fascination with mixed-media technique: graphite, chalks, ink washes, watercolor, and oil paints intermingle on toned papers. Together, the sixteen drawings on view in the Clark’s Manton Gallery for British Art demonstrate how Gainsborough championed an imaginative approach over naturalistic detail.