The display of nine landscape paintings from the Dutch Golden Age at Gainsborough’s House is part of an international collaboration with Rijksmuseum Twenthe, a museum and gallery located in the textile city of Enschede in the Netherlands. This year, the Dutch museum shows Gainsborough in His Own Words, Holland’s first exhibition on Thomas Gainsborough, featuring a number of paintings, drawings, books and manuscripts from the Gainsborough’s House collection. Simultaneously, Gainsborough’s House is showing Dutch Landscapes from the Golden Age, a collection of paintings by some of the best-known masters from the canon of Dutch art.
As a young artist, Gainsborough was greatly inspired by the Dutch landscape tradition of the seventeenth century. During the 1740s, while Gainsborough was training in London, hundreds of Dutch landscapes were passing through the capital’s sale rooms on a weekly basis. Gainsborough was clearly inspired by his exposure to these images, and evidently sought out opportunities to introduce the Dutch style into his renderings of the British countryside. The selection of works from Rijksmuseum Twenthe show different aspects of Dutch landscape painting which would have captured Gainsborough’s imagination. From the close observation of natural textures and tones exhibited by Jan van Kessel, to the depiction of expansive wooded landscapes demonstrated by Joris van der Haagen; and from Hendrick ten Oever’s portrayal of rural labourers, to Jan van Goyen’s sentimental approach to capturing rural rustic life: Gainsborough’s indebtedness to the Dutch tradition can hardly be overstated.
Image: Joris van der Haagen, c. 1615-69, View of Cleves, ca.1660, Oil on Canvas
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was born in Sudbury and baptised at the Independent Meeting-House in Friars Street on 14 May 1727, the fifth son and ninth child of John and Mary Gainsborough. In 1958, Gainsborough’s House Society was formed to purchase the house and establish it as a centre for Thomas Gainsborough. The Museum opened to the public in 1961 and has remained open for over 50 years. The beautiful historic garden at the heart of Gainsborough’s House is maintained by a devoted body of volunteers, who garden exclusively with plants that were available in Gainsborough’s lifetime.
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