The most ambitious of the artist's drawings as well as one of his largest, this work shows a group of figures travelling past a rocky outcrop.

The figures do not pay much attention to each other and the various ages of the are either too close or too disparate to be convincing as husband and wife, or parent and child. To describe the characters as 'peasants' seems something of a misnomer too. Rather than rural toil the figures emit an air of idyllic theatricality. The main source for the drawing appears to be Rembrandt's 'The Flight into Egypt' but Gainsborough's debt is not slavish. There is a rococo lightness about the composition, which, when coupled with the grandeur of the group itself, is matched by few of the artist's other works.

Provenance

Artist's family; H.Briggs;Christie's 1831; Johnson; Eldridge; 4th Baron Northbourne; Sotheby's 1945; Cooper; Leger & Son,1946; Sir K.Clark;Christie's 1982, withdrawn; Trustees of Lord Clark's Settlement Trust; Christie's 1992


Gainsborough's House

46 Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2EU
01787 372 958
Website

Opening times

Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm, Sun from 11am

Closed Good Friday, 24 Dec – 1 Jan

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