Thomas Gainsborough
Study of a Cow in a Landscape c.1758–9

Artwork details

Thomas Gainsborough 1727–1788
Study of a Cow in a Landscape
Date c.1758–9
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 153 x 188 mm
Acquisition Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Gainsborough was an enthusiastic and accomplished draughtsman. More drawings survive by him than for any other British landscape artist in this period. In his early career his preferred drawing medium was pencil, and his favoured subject-matter plants, trees or animals, mossy banks, woodland paths and thickets. Drawing for Gainsborough has been described as an act of love and recreation rather than a means of storing up information - though he did sometimes turn to his early studies for compositional ideas. This drawing has been coated with a layer of fixative which has subsequently discoloured. Gainsborough recommended 'skim'd milk' for fixing chalk, but whether he used the same substance for fixing pencil is not known.

September 2004