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This is one of several pictures by Gainsborough on the theme of
peasants travelling to or from market. These articulate a sense of nostalgia
for the old ways of country life, where independent family units were able
to support themselves by working the
land. This was a way of life which the introduction of modern farming methods was making increasingly untenable.
Here, a family is shown in a moment
of rest after the labours of the day. The painting's rich colours and swelling forms evokes the example of the seventeenth century painter Rubens, giving the scene
a feeling of peaceful grandeur.

September 2004