Thomas Gainsborough

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Thomas Gainsborough
Landscape with a Decayed Willow over a Pool
Graphite with smudging, on laid paper on laid paper.
11 3/8 x 13 5/8 inches (289 x 346 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
III, 47

This luminous view, one of the earliest drawings in which Gainsborough explored the theme of rural life, probably does not depict an identifiable location in the English countryside but instead represents an idealized rustic view. Gainsborough executed this highly finished sheet in his studio, creating an autonomous drawing that would be desirable to collectors and exhibited like a small-format painting. The sheet illustrates Gainsborough's mastery of his medium: varying the degree of pressure applied to the point of graphite, the artist variously hatched and smudged to suggest depth, indicate movement, and obtain a variety of tonal effects and light accents. -- Exhibition Label, from "Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawings."


Inscribed on the verso, in pencil, Bought of Mr. Woodburn 1837 / JC / ... 4,40.

Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke (1720-1790); by descent to Amabel Yorke, Baroness Lucas of Crudwell, later Countess de Grey of Wrest (1751-1833); probably Samuel Woodburn (1786-1853), London; 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: 

Hardwicke, Philip Yorke, Earl of, 1720-1790, former owner.
De Grey, Amabel Hume-Campbell, Countess, 1751-1833, former owner.
Woodburn, Samuel, 1785 or 1786-1853, former owner.
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. 51, no. 4, repr.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, III, 47.
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. 37.
Wiles, Stephanie. To Observe and Imagine : British Drawings, 1600-1900. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1998, no. 31.

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