Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727-1788
Title: A View in Suffolk
Date: c.1746
Medium: Oil on canvas
47 x 61 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1883
Object Number: NGI.191
DescriptionThe curving track, chalk pits, pool and windswept trees under a great expanse of sky powerfully evoke Gainsborough’s native Suffolk, on the exposed east coast of England. These features of the terrain are also found in the work of Dutch seventeenth-century masters, whom Gainsborough was studying as a young artist, and whose vision of the naturalistic landscape he shared. The view is partly imaginary, composed of a series of patterns. Gainsborough takes the eye through a sweep of foreground detail, echoed in the cascade of clouds. The silvery-grey colouring over a light ground has echoes of Wijnants, who would also often include in his compositions a jutting tree or a man with a pole. The rendering of space, the clarity of light and the clearly delineated foliage are all Gainsborough’s own, however. Some small details including a horse, a barking dog and a distant church tower give the sense of a human presence. When he painted this work, Gainsborough was training under Hubert Gravelot and Francis Hayman at the St Martin’s Lane Academy, London. At the same time he was engaged in restoring and copying works by Wijnants, Van Ruisdael, Hobbema and others.

March 2016
ProvenanceJ.H. Reynolds; by descent to F.W. Reynolds; purchased Christie's, London, 10 April 1883, Reynolds Sale, lot 109
Exhibition HistoryThomas Gainsborough Bicentenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 1927

British Art, City Art Gallery, Manchester, April - May 1934

British Art, c.1000-1860, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1934

Two Centuries of English Art, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, July - October 1936

La Peinture Anglaise: XVIIIe & XIXe Siècles, Louvre, Paris, 1938

English Masters from the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Belfast Museum and Art Gallery, May - August 1960

Landscapes by Thomas Gainsborough, Nottingham University, Nottingham, 1962

Centenary Exhibition, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, October - December 1964

The Origins of Landscape Painting in England, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood, summer 1967

La Peinture Britannique de Gainsborough á Bacon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, 1977

Shades of Grey: Painting without Colour, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 22 June - 29 September 2013

Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Gallery, London, 8 October 1980 - 4 January 1981

Gainsborough, Grand Palais, Paris, 6 February - 27 April 1981

Master European Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 6 June - 9 August 1992; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, 19 September - 6 December 1992; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 13 January - 28 March 1993; IBM Gallery, New York, 27 April - 26 June 1993

Thomas Gainsborough, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara, 7 June - 30 August 1998

Shades of Grey: Painting without Colour, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 22 June - 29 September 2013
Label TextDuring his early career, Gainsborough frequently painted views of his native Suffolk. In this painting he conveyed not only his intimate knowledge of the countryside of his home county, but also his interest in the work of seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painters. At this time, Gainsborough worked as a restorer and copyist of works by, among others, Jacob van Ruisdael and Meindert Hobbema. Here, the expansive grey sky, the windswept trees, and the curving track reveal the impact of these Dutch masters.