Thomas Gainsborough

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Thomas Gainsborough
A Boy with a Book and a Spade
Graphite with smudging on laid paper; squared for transfer with a numbered grid.
7 7/16 x 6 inches (189 x 153 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909.
III, 59b

Perhaps Gainsborough's earliest extant figure drawing, this sheet served as a study for the signboard of a village school. Gainsborough painted it when he had just returned to Suffolk from London, where he had received his first artistic training. Minor commissions such as signboards were a primary source of income for a novice like Gainsborough as he tried to establish a career as a portrait painter. -- Exhibition Label, from "Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawings."


Inscribed at lower right in pen and ink, "TG".
Watermark: Pro Patria, upper fragment.

Sir J.C. Robinson (Lugt 1433); Robinson sale, London, Christie's, 21 April 1902, lot 131; 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: 

Robinson, J. C. (John Charles), Sir, 1824-1913, 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. 40, no. 1, repr.
Collection J. Pierpont Morgan : Drawings by the Old Masters Formed by C. Fairfax Murray. London : Privately printed, 1905-1912, III, 59b, repr.

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