Thomas GainsboroughLandscape with Gipsies c.1753-4

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Artwork details

Artist
Thomas Gainsborough (1727‑1788)
Title
Landscape with Gipsies
Date c.1753-4
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 483 x 622 mm frame: 689 x 816 x 84 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Mrs Arthur James 1948
Reference
N05845
Not on display

Summary

In this unfinished painting, Gainsborough explored for the first time the subject of gypsies or peasants gathered round a camp fire. While the subject of gypsies had precedents in seventeenth-century Dutch, Flemish and Italian art, Gainsborough appears to have been the first British painter to have explored the theme in depth and made it the focus of at least three paintings.

While it is sometimes uncertain whether such figures are peasants relaxing and eating in the open air or true gypsies, living a nomadic outdoor life, the evidence (provided by Gainsborough’s title of the later engraving of the subject) suggests that the figures here are gypsies. Eighteenth-century social attitudes towards gypsies (as found in the literature of the period) were that they were a rather sinister yet nevertheless fascinating underclass… (read more)

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