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Pastoral Landscape (Rocky Mountain Valley with a Shepherd, Sheep, and Goats)

Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727 - 1788

Made in Great Britain, Europe

c. 1783

Oil on canvas

40 3/8 x 50 3/8 inches (102.6 x 128 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 377, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The John Howard McFadden Collection, 1928

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With its rough, irregular masses of color and its soft light, this painting is a perfect example of what in eighteenth-century England would have been considered a picturesque landscape. The artist Sir Joshua Reynolds described Gainsborough's working method in the following way: "From the fields he brought into his painting-room, stumps of trees, weeds, and animals of various kinds; and designed them, not from memory, but immediately from the objects. He even framed a kind of model of landscape, on his table; composed of broken stones, dried herbs, and pieces of looking glass, which he magnified and improved into rocks, trees, and water." Thus it is entirely possible that this scene was composed largely in Gainsborough's imagination.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.