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This lively and loosely sketched picture of an old horse dates most likely from the mid 1750s, relatively early in Gainsborough's career when he was still living in his native Suffolk.
Once in the possession of Gainsborough's family, the picture was described in 1896 as 'an aged cart-horse, much emaciated and just taken from work'. Sketched from life, it demonstrates Gainsborough's enjoyment in copying directly from nature, which he did throughout his life either for sheer pleasure or as preparatory study for elements in his finished oils.

November 1996