Wooded Landscape with Horsemen, Figures, and Bridge
Black chalk, stumped, heightened with white chalk
9 3/4 x 12 3/4 inches (247 x 324 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
Although Gainsborough earned a living principally through portrait commissions, his landscape paintings and drawings—despite their unpopularity— figure prominently in his oeuvre. His personal preference is expressed in this often quoted remark written to a friend, "I am sick of Portraits and wish very much to take my viol-da-gamba and walk off to some sweet village where I can paint landskips and enjoy the fag-end of life in peace and quietness." Gainsborough most appreciated the peaceful qualities of the English countryside, and pastoral themes dominate his landscape drawings. The present sheet, made in the mid-to-late 1770s, includes such picturesque details as travelers along a riverbank and a bridge in the background. Although Gainsborough sketched directly from nature when he could, the scenes were drawn entirely from his imagination.