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Oil painting - Cart Horses at a Drinking Trough
  • Cart Horses at a Drinking Trough
    Thomas Gainsborough, born 1727 - died 1788
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Cart Horses at a Drinking Trough

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Thomas Gainsborough, born 1727 - died 1788 (after)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    555-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is thought to be an accurate copy by an imitator of Thomas Gainsborough of a painting from Gainsborough’s London period, Rocky Wooded Landscape with Mounted Drover, Horses watering at a Trough and Distant Village and Mountain, dated 1780 (on loan to the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood). The V&A work is unusual in being an early copy of a late Gainsborough in contrast to the many copies which are thought to be mid-nineteenth century or later in date. It formed part of the celebrated collection of French 18th century fine and decorative arts belonging to John Jones and hung in his residence at No. 95, Piccadilly.

Physical description

In the foreground, are two horses; the nearest brown one is drinking from a trough on the right; the white one has raised its head after drinking and on its back is a bearded man wearing a red garment. From the right a dog approaches the trough which is fed by a stream pouring down from the overhanging rocks. On the left, seen beneath overhanging trees, is a village with a church tower and, beyond it, a mountain under a gloomy sky relieved with tints of sunset.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Thomas Gainsborough, born 1727 - died 1788 (after)

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 29.5 in estimate, Width: 35 in estimate, Height: 74.93 cm, Width: 88.9 cm, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882
[John Jones 1800-1882]
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix-xx

John Jones (1800-1882) was first in business as a tailor and army clothier in London 1825, and opened a branch in Dublin 1840. Often visited Ireland, travelled to Europe and particularly France. He retired in 1850, but retained an interest in his firm. Lived quietly at 95 Piccadilly from 1865 to his death in January 1882. After the Marquess of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Jones was the principal collector in Britain of French 18th century fine and decorative arts. Jones bequeathed an important collection of French 18th century furniture and porcelain to the V&A, and among the British watercolours and oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A are subjects which reflect his interest in France.

See also South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Jones Collection. With Portrait and Woodcuts. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 11, Henrietta Street. 1884.
Chapter I. Mr. John Jones. pp.1-7.
Chapter II. No.95, Piccadilly. pp.8-44. This gives a room-by-room guide to the contents of John Jones' house at No.95, Piccadilly.
Chapter VI. ..... Pictures,... and other things, p.138, "The pictures which are included in the Jones bequest are, with scarcely a single exception, valuable and good; and many of them excellent works of the artists. Mr. Jones was well pleased if he could collect enough pictures to ornament the walls of his rooms, and which would do no discredit to the extraordinary furniture and other things with which his house was filled."

Historical context note

This is said to be an early and accurate copy by an imitator of Thomas Gainsborough of a painting from Gainsborough’s London period, Rocky Wooded Landscape with Mounted Drover, Horses watering at a Trough and Distant Village and Mountain, dated 1780, on indefinite loan to the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood (Hayes, John, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough: A Critical Text and Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Two, London 1982, p.481, cat.124). The V&A copy is a truncated version of the original, the upper section of which depicts the top of the craggy-shaped rocks set against dark foliage. It may therefore derive from a mezzotint of the lower half of the composition which was executed and published by D. Rymer.

Gainsborough’s landscapes, especially his early works, were frequently imitated, particularly in the decade after his death, both after the original paintings and engravings and mezzotints. Unlike the V&A copy, most of the copies of his late works are thought to be mid-nineteenth century or later in date. A study by Gainsborough for the central motif of the composition was formerly in the Schniewind collection (124a, Hayes, Drawings, no. 480) and is now untraceable.

Hayes identifies another copy, of the same size as the original painting, in the Whitbread Collection at Southill (Waterhouse, no.943) and believes that this is identifiable with ‘A Copy by [S.W.] Reynolds of Gainsborough’s Horses drinking’ recorded in the Southill inventory of 1816 (pl. 338 and p.281). There is a further copy in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight and the V&A object file records multiple copies or versions including: one belonging to the late Mr Charles Henry Hart (d. 1921) of Philadelphia, previously said to have belonged to Humphrey Ward (recorded as being slightly different with the horses drinking from a spring and not from a trough); one full size and one small hanging in the Pulteney Hotel, Bath; one belonging to Sir Arthur Du Cros, Craigwell House, Bognor sold in 1932; one belonging to Mr D. Hardmann of Bluecoat House, Ware, Herts, and brought to the Museum on 10.8.1950.

The motif of a male rider on a white horse accompanied by a brown horse, derives from one of Gainsborough’s celebrated Woburn landscapes (see Wooded Landscape with Peasant Boy mounted and Two Horses, Pond with Ducks, Haymakers and Haycart, Woman suckling a Baby and other Figures and Church Tower among Trees, dated 1755, Woburn Abbey). However, its use as the central motif, as in the Kenwood original, is unusual in Gainsborough’s oeuvre and may show the influence of Dutch painting, such as the small panel by Jan Both in the National Gallery of Ireland.

The V&A copy formed part of the celebrated Jones Collection which was bequeathed to the museum in 1882. The painting hung in the Jones residence at No. 95, Piccadilly, on the first floor in a room situated beyond the third drawing-room:

A fourth room, only thirteen feet by nine, was also on this floor. It was entered either from the small back drawing-room or from the landing at the top of the stairs. This was the room occupied by Mr Jones during his last illness and in which he died. The camp bedstead and several pieces of furniture left scarcely any space to move about. It contained a lac commode (No.1094), the pair of encoignures (No. 1092), and two tables by Reisener (Nos. 1093, 1095). The very charming clock (No. 1005) was on the chimney-piece, and upon the lac commode were another clock (No. 1004) and the two bronzes – copies of the figures by Michael Angelo on the tomb of Lorenzo dei Medici (No. 983). A pair of pictures by Fragonard (Nos. 559, 560), and others by Gainsborough (No. 555), Frith, Frost, and Copley Fielding, were round the walls (Handbook of the Jones Collection in the South Kensington Museum with Portrait and Woodcuts, London 1884, p.44).

Descriptive line

Oil painting, Cart Horses at a Drinking Trough, after Thomas Gainsborough, British school, 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Handbook of the Jones Collection in the South Kensington Museum with Portrait and Woodcuts, London 1884, p.44

Beresford Chancellor, E., Walks among London’s Pictures, London 1910

Hayes, John, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough: A Critical Text and Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Two, London 1982, p.481, cat.124

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Horse; Trough

Categories

Images Online; Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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