Thomas Gainsborough

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Thomas Gainsborough
1727-1788
Hilly Landscape with Cows on the Road
ca. 1780
Black chalk with smudging, white chalk applied wet, on wove paper.
11 x 14 9/16 inches (279 x 372 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
III, 62
Provenance: 
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.
Bibliography: 

Bolzoni, Marco S. Thomas Gainsborough : Experiments in Drawings. New York : The Morgan Library & Museum, 2018, p. 63, no. 9, repr.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, III, 62.
Denison, Cara D., Evelyn J. Phimister, and Stephanie Wiles. Gainsborough to Ruskin : British Landscape Drawings and Watercolors from the Morgan Library. Ghent : Ludion, 1994, no. 41, repr.
Wiles, Stephanie. To Observe and Imagine : British Drawings, 1600-1900. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1998, no. 36.

Notes: 

Starting in the early 1780s, Gainsborough began to produce variations of similar compositions drawn mainly in black and white chalk: serpentine, asymmetrical landscapes with moving skies and luxuriant trees shaken by a strong wind, populated by solitary animals or slow-marching peasants. In these late works, Gainsborough demonstrated a keen interest in the tonal potential of a monochrome medium like black chalk. A mix of fine strokes of varying length, some of which almost break up into a pattern of dots, is masterfully modulated on the paper, and an ample range of grays, whites, and intense blacks suggests color. By manipulating the medium with a stump (a stick made of tightly rolled paper or felt), Gainsborough distributed the dark tones in the backgrounds to create transparent skies and moving clouds. In these final works, Gainsborough also exploited the qualities of wove paper--then newly introduced to the English market--which made it easier to slide and smear the crayon over the surface of the sheet than had been the case with laid paper. -- Exhibition Label, from "Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawings."

Associated names: 

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

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