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Gainsborough received very few commissions for landscape paintings; all those he exhibited were speculative works. The quiet solitude of this painting, with a drover leading a herd of cattle to water, is typical of Gainsborough's later landscapes. His own association of landscape painting with pastoral ease and tranquillity seemed to increase in his final years; he claimed: 'I'm sick of portraits and wish very much to take my Viol da Gamba [cello] and walk off to some sweet Village where I can paint landskips and enjoy the fag end of life in quietness and ease'.

September 2004