A Peasant Girl Gathering Faggots in a Wood

Thomas Gainsborough, 1727 - 1788

A Peasant Girl Gathering Faggots in a Wood

Thomas Gainsborough 1727 - 1788


Idealised full-length portrait of young peasant girl, in rustic and ragged costume, standing with a bundle of sticks carried in the folds of her apron. She stands forward-facing, her head turned slightly to the left with a melancholy expression. The figure is depicted in a landscape setting, with the branchless trunk of a tree, to her left, seen against dark, freely painted, cloudy sky. A number of 'pentimenti' (the reappearance on the surface of an oil painting of paint that the artist had covered by overpainting) indicate that the artist experimented with alternative positions for the central figure and some details of the landscape.

Display Label

Gallery text panel Face and Place Portraiture and Landscape in the 18th Century A dramatic growth in Britain's wealth during the 1700s brought about an increased demand for art and design. Hundreds of grand houses were built or improved and many were filled with impressive private collections. The prominent display of paintings and decorative arts demonstrated their owners' status and taste. Portraiture became particularly fashionable, leading to rising numbers of 'face painters' and to an increase in the quality of their work. The ability to capture a likeness was most important but artists could also enhance a sitter's image with qualities such as prestige, wisdom or power. New public exhibitions gave artists a shop window and the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, organised the most important annual show. Amid this developing climate of enthusiasm for art, landscape painting also began its remarkable evolution. Landscape arose from a need to accurately record views and was first thought to be of little artistic merit. But as painters grew in confidence during the later 1700s it was treated with more creativity and seriousness, establishing a distinctive tradition in British art.

Object Name

A Peasant Girl Gathering Faggots in a Wood

Creators Name

Thomas Gainsborough

Date Created



support: 169cm x 123cm
framed (approx): 197cm x 149cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Purchased with the assistance of the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the National Art Collections Fund


© Manchester Art Gallery

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