Thomas Gainsborough

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Thomas Gainsborough
A Woman and Three Children
Black chalk with smudging, and white chalk, some applied wet, on tan laid paper.
14 1/16 x 9 1/2 inches (358 x 242 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
III, 59

A study for one of Gainsborough's so-called fancy pictures, this sketch offers evidence of the artist's late technique and documents his tendency to reduce figures to geometrical components of nearly abstract quality. Although executed quickly, the drawing reveals Gainsborough's virtuosity in experimenting with different media. Harmoniously combining black and white chalk, applied both dry and wet, the artist varied tones by changing the pressure of the medium on the paper and by rubbing and smudging the chalks, a technique he also employed in his late black-and-white landscapes. -- Exhibition Label, from "Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawings."

Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), London and Florence; from whom purchased through Galerie Alexandre Imbert, Rome, in 1909 by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York (no mark; see Lugt 1509); his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), New York.
Associated names: 

Murray, Charles Fairfax, 1849-1919, former owner.
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913, former owner.


Bolzoni, Marco S. Thomas Gainsborough : Experiments in Drawings. New York : The Morgan Library & Museum, 2018, p. 68, no. 11, repr.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, III, 59.

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