Young Gainsborough: Rediscovered Landscape Drawings – Twenty-five recently attributed Gainsborough drawings go on show for the first time alongside major works
DATE: 24 September 2021
October 1 2021 – February 13 2022
Twenty-five recently attributed Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) landscape drawings will go on public display for the first time at York Art Gallery next month, as part of a major exhibition staged in collaboration with the Royal Collection Trust, the National Gallery of Ireland, and Nottingham Castle Trust.
The beautiful drawings, lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, were discovered to be by Gainsborough in 2013 and transform our understanding of Gainsborough’s approach to landscape drawing, which was to remain an enduring passion throughout his life.
They will be presented alongside related paintings and works on paper borrowed from collections across the UK and Ireland, including Gainsborough’s recently conserved masterpiece, ‘Cornard Wood’ (1748), recently conserved and loaned by The National Gallery, London.
Together, the artworks displayed shed new light on Gainsborough’s early landscape practice and the techniques which made him one of the country’s most significant and influential artists.
The exhibition will also showcase the UK premiere of the triptych ‘Clay, Peat, Cage’ (2015), three performances to camera by Yorkshire-based artists Jade Montserrat and Webb-Ellis.
Dr Beatrice Bertram, Senior Curator at York Art Gallery, said: “We are thrilled that York Art Gallery will be the first place to host these fantastic newly attributed Gainsborough landscape drawings from the Royal Collection, which reveal so much about the young artist. The exhibition presents these sensitive drawings alongside some of Gainsborough’s incredible landscape paintings, including The National Gallery’s early masterpiece ‘Conard Wood’ (1748). It is truly exciting to be able to display this recently conserved canvas alongside its preparatory study for the first time since they were in Gainsborough’s studio.
“The brilliant works by Montserrat and Webb-Ellis offer a contemporary counterpart to
Gainsborough’s landscape practice, re-discovering and re-imaging landscape in the 21st century.”
Tickets can be booked now for £10 per adult, concessions available. To book go to: www.yorkartgallery.org.uk
The exhibition’s official paint sponsor is Mylands, Britain’s oldest, family-owned and run paint and polishes manufacturer.
The exhibition is presented over three galleries, with more than 40 works on show. At the heart of the hang are the twenty-five landscape drawings that were recently discovered to be by Gainsborough, all of which were made in the early part of his career, between about 1746-50, when he was painting the Suffolk landscape. It will explore several themes, including Gainsborough’s early drawing practice both in the open air and in the studio, and the process of using drawings to create finished paintings. This will be illustrated through several of the newly attributed drawings, for instance the previously unknown study for Gainsborough’s most important landscape painting, ‘Cornard Wood’ (1748, National Gallery), will be hung next to the completed canvas.
Another section will delve into Gainsborough’s admiration for 17th-century Dutch landscapes, in particular works by Jacob van Ruisdael (1629 – 1682), Jan Wijnants (1632 – 1684) and Meindert Hobbema (1638 – 1709). The exhibition includes loans borrowed from regional, national and international collections, including Gainsborough’s ‘Landscape with a Pool’ (c.1746-47, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and Wijnants’s ‘The Dunes near Haarlem’ (1667, National Gallery of Ireland), as well as Gainsborough’s ‘Wooded Landscape with Country Waggon, Milkmaid and Drover’ (1766, private collection).
The third gallery will showcase the UK premiere of ‘Clay, Peat, Cage’ (2015) by Jade Montserrat and Webb-Ellis. These three performances to camera portray an exploration of the North Yorkshire landscape, where Montserrat and Webb-Ellis have lived for the majority of their lives.
Montserrat and Webb-Ellis have been working collaboratively in and around North Yorkshire since 2013. Their shared connection to the local landscape has resulted in a focused body of work that raises questions around belonging, ownership and agency. As well as these performances to camera, their practice also includes walking, dancing, and the reading of texts. The success of their collaboration is in part due to the equal sharing of skills and ideas, but also through placing value on sensitivity, mutual learning, and trust.
Taking inspiration from Gainsborough, visitors will also be able to see the work of the Teenage Art School, who have worked with Montserrat and artist-engineer duo Practically Creative to create their own artistic responses to local landscapes.