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Creator:
Thomas Gainsborough RA, 1727–1788, British
Title:

Landscape with Cattle

Former Title(s):

Landscape with Cattle and Figures

A Landscape with Cattle and Figures by a Stream and a Distant Bridge

An english landscape with peasants and cattle

Wooded Stream with Pastoral Figures and Distant Bridge

Pastoral Landscape with Distant Bridge

Woody Stream with pastoral Figures and Distant Bridge

A Woody Stream with Pastoral Figures and Distant Bridge

Extensive Wooded Landscape with Peasants, Cows, Shepard and sheep, Ruined Building on a Hillock and Distant Village and Mountain

Date:
ca. 1773
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 47 1/4 x 57 1/4 inches (120 x 145.4 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Signed, lower right: "TG [monogram]"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.305
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
banks | bridge | cattle | cows | figures | hills | landscape | men | people | stream | town | trees | woman
Associated Places:
Avon | England | England | United Kingdom
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5029
Export:
XML

Although best known for his portraits, Thomas Gainsborough’s passion was for landscapes. He once dreamed of retiring to “some sweet Village where I can paint Landskips [sic] and enjoy the fag End of life in quietness and ease.” After moving to Bath in 1759, his landscapes became increasingly idealized, often made from models laid out on tabletops and inspired by the work of the painters Claude Lorrain and Peter Paul Rubens. This twilight scene, painted in Bath shortly before Gainsborough moved to London, draws on the example of both artists to create an idyllic landscape bathed in golden light. The milkmaid and her lover in the foreground seem unhurried and entirely at ease as they flirt at the end of the day, as if they are at one with nature with no need to work—a far cry from the reality of life for eighteenth-century milkmaids and shepherd boys.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



Gainsborough was profoundly influenced by the Flemish baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens, whose work is shown in the first bay of this exhibition. In this major landscape, painted while Gainsborough was working in Bath, he evokes the rich coloring and pastoral vision of Rubens to depict a rustic landscape by twilight. These landscapes were painted from the imagination, often based on drawings of small models of landscapes made with broccoli, cork, sand, and glass. A preparatory drawing for this painting is shown nearby.

Gallery label for Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11)



Though forced to support himself by portrait painting, Gainsborough always preferred to paint the landscape. This is one of his most obvious tributes to the great classical landscape tradition established by French and Italian painters in the seventeenth century, especially the great expatriate French painter in Rome, Claude Lorrain. Large in scale, such views were carefully constructed—in this case at Bath. Gainsborough made sketches outdoors and then created the final composition in his studio, where he often set up a model landscape using props such as sand, reflecting glass, and broccoli or cauliflower for the trees. Some of the issues relating to Gainsborough’s conception of landscape, and of related picturesque subject matter, were explored in the Center’s exhibition Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough’s “Cottage Door” in 2005.

Gallery label for An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)
Gainsborough’s landscapes from his late Bath period are highly structured, although they radiate a sense of ease and naturalness. After years of creating what appeared to be fresh and unmediated visions of the English landscape, in the early 1770s Gainsborough began to paint and draw formally composed meditations on the idyll of rustic life, consciously mimicking the landscape precepts of the seventeenth-century painter Claude Lorrain. Hence, in this painting, our eye moves from the darker foreground figures shaded by a grove of trees and follows the winding river and arching bridge in the middle distance out to a background featuring a town bathed in a glowing evening light.

A drawing related to “Landscape with Cattle” in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art suggests that Gainsborough carefully worked out some of his paintings at this time through the medium of drawing, experimenting with minute compositional shifts that would have a great impact on the nature of the finished work. The three cows are grouped more statically in the Center’s drawing than in the finished painting. It is generally thought that Gainsborough produced only rough sketches for his paintings, preferring to work out compositions as he painted. However, the fact that he had only recently begun painting landscapes of this kind, which would have demanded a more rigorous working method, argues for the supposition that the Center’s drawing preceded “Landscape with Cattle”.

Cassandra Albinson

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy: a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 257-58, no. 37, pl. 37, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)



I'm sick of Portraits and wish very much to take my Viol da Gamba and walk off to some sweet Village when I can paint Landskips and enjoy the fag End of Life in quietness and ease.

Thomas Gainsborough to William Jackson[1]

Although forced to support himself by portrait-painting, Gainsborough preferred landscape painting. He sold few of his pure landscapes, and those he did sell brought him little income. At the artist's death his obituarist Bate-Dudley remarked:

His mind was most in its element while engaged in landscape. These subjects he painted with a faithful adherence to nature; and it is to be noticed they are more in approach to the landscapes of Rubens, than to those of any other master. At the same time we must remark, his trees, foreground, and figures, have more force and spirit; and we add, the brilliancy of Claude, and the simplicity of Ruysdael, appear combined in Mr. Gainsborough's romantic scenes.[2]

The present picture is one of Gainsborough's most obvious tributes to the seventeenth-century master of the classical landscape, Claude Lorrain; like Claude, Gainsborough uses the lightly colored trees on one side of the canvas to lead the viewer's eye through the picture, away from the foreground and out to the far distance where the atmosphere is at its most glowingly pink and yellow. The feathery trees rise from the slope, serving to push our eye to the distant, central horizon, hazy with yellow and blue clouds that color the mountainous vista beyond. From the luminous distance our eye slowly grazes back across the canvas, tracing the opposite trail from the cattle and sheep; we wander from afar, back over the bridge in the middle distance, across the languorous, sunlit field where a shepherd tends his flock. Once in the foreground, shaded from the glowing autumnal sunlight, our eyes follow the stream back out again to the verdant pastures, above which towers a ruined castle, embedded in the landscape like a man-made rock.

A chalk study for this composition (present whereabouts unknown) differs from the painting in the placement of the cows and figures in the foreground, reminding us that these seemingly "natural" views were carefully constructed compositions. Like the earlier masters he emulated, Gainsborough methodically thought out his landscapes, making sketches outdoors and working out the final composition in his studio, often using props (including sand, cork, reflecting glass for ponds, and even broccoli for the trees) to recreate compositions in model form.

Gainsborough clearly allied his paintings with those of his illustrious predecessors, but his works record his own visions of the landscape and are at once his most personal and most academic productions. Whatever its inspiration, nature or art or both, this work, with its feathery touch, golden tone, and quaint yet majestic depiction of the land and its occupants, exemplifies Gainsborough's conception of the ideal landscape, one that Reynolds, almost begrudgingly, termed poetical.[3] [1] Woodall, 115

[2] Brenneman, 42

[3] Joshua Reynolds, Discrouse XIV, 253

Julia Marciari-Alexander

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 14; pp. 82-83, no. 28, fig. 13, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough's " Cottage Door " (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 2006-02-11 - 2006-05-14)

Sensation and Sensibility: Viewing Gainsborough's " Cottage Door " (Yale Center for British Art, 2005-10-06 - 2005-12-31)

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15)

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06)

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Mie Prefectural Art Museum, 1993-04-10 - 1993-05-09)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Daimaru Museum of Art, 1993-03-10 - 1993-03-29)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Hiroshima Museum of Art, 1993-01-23 - 1993-03-07)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Koriyama City Museum of Art, 1992-11-21 - 1993-01-17)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Ohita Prefectural Art Hall, 1992-10-24 - 1992-11-15)

British Landscape Exhibition (Japan) (Isetan Museum of Art, 1992-09-17 - 1992-10-20)

Thomas Gainsborough (Tate) (Musée du Louvre, 1981-02-07 - 1981-04-26)

Thomas Gainsborough (Tate) (Tate Britain, 1980-10-07 - 1981-01-04)

Amal Asfour, Gainsborough's vision, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool [England], 1999, p. 189, no. 112, NJ18 G16 A74 1999 (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 257-58, no. 37, pl. 37, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Isetan Bijutsukan, Eikoku fåukeiga ten =, British landscape paintings from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge , Tenrankai Katarogu Iinkai, Tokyo, Japan, 1992, pp. 36-37, no. 6, ND1354.5 E5 1992 (YCBA)

David Brenneman, Thomas Gainsborough's Wooded Landscape with Cattle by a Pool, Art Criticism and the Royal Academy , Gainsborough's House Review, 1995-1996, pp. 38-39, fig 8, N1494 G25 (YCBA)

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 287, fig. 5, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]

Christie's sale catalogue : Catalogue of the small but highly important collection of modern pictures : 19 May 1866, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 19, 1866, p. 8, Lot 38, Fiche B51, Fiche# 0026 (YCBA) Also available online " Art Sales Catalogues Online - Lugt # 29147

Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of the Important Collection of Ancient and Modern Paintings and Water-colour Drawings : 10 May 1878, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 10, 1878, p. 32, Lot 239, Fiche B51 (YCBA) Also Available online : Art Sales Catalogues Online - Lugt # 38377

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 98-99, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Malcolm Cormack, A Selective Promenade, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 287, fig. 5, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)]

Malcolm Cormack, The paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, 1991, p. 114, NJ18 G16 C66 1991 (YCBA)

G. W. Fulcher, Life of Thomas Gainsborough., Longman, London, 1856, p. 238, NJ18 G16 F85 (YCBA)

Gainsborough, 1727-1788, Grand Palais, 6 fâevrier-27 avril 1981. , Editions Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, 1981, p. 140, No. 46, NJ18 G16 H393 (YCBA)

John T. Hayes, Gainsborough: paintings and drawings, Phaidon, London New York, 1975, p. 217, no. 83, pl. 109, NJ18 G16 H395 + (YCBA)

John T. Hayes, The drawings of Thomas Gainsborough, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven London, 1971, p. 194 (v.1), no. 368 (v.1), pl. 282 (v. 2), NJ18 G16 H39 + (YCBA)

John T. Hayes, The landscape paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, a critical text and catalogue raisonné , Sotheby Publications, London, 1982, pp. 452-55 (v.2), v. 2, no. 108, pl. 151 (v. 1), NJ18 G16 A12 H39 1982 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)

John T. Hayes, Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Publishing, [S.l., 1980, pp. 121-22, no. 114, fig. 114, NJ18 G16 H48 (YCBA)

Jack Lindsay, Thomas Gainsborough, his life and art , Granada, London, 1981, p. 108, NJ18 G16 L55 1981 (YCBA)

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 14; pp. 82-83, no. 28, fig. 13, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v.3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Ronald Paulson, Emblem and expression, meaning in English art of the eighteenth century , Thames and Hudson, London, 1975, p. 247, NX543 P38 (YCBA)

Meredyth Proby, Remarkable Connoisseur, Country Life, June 1990, p. 256, S3 C68 + (YCBA)

Michael Rosenthal, The art of Thomas Gainsborough, "a little business for the eye" , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1999, p. 45, pl. 50, NJ18 G16 R67 1999 (YCBA)

Angus Trumble, Object Lesson, Two kandscapes by Gainsborough , Yale Alumni Magazine, v. 69, no, 1, September/October, 2005, p. 58, Yh10 +A2 (SML Mss & Arvives AND LSF) Also available online at www.yalealumnimagazine.com

Ellis Waterhouse, Gainsborough, Spring Books, London, 1966, p. 112, no. 890, pl. 81, NJ18 G16 A12 W28 1966 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)


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