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A chalk sketch of two dogs was made by
Gainsborough (c. 1780s). The precise date is unknown, but Gainsborough died in 1788.
In 1827, Richard J. Lane (1800-1872),
the grandson of Gainsborough's sister, Susan Gardiner, did a
reverse lithograph of the Gainsborough chalk sketch. A
book was prepared for the Fall 2006 Gainsborough House art exhibition
entitled Gainsborough's Dogs. A copy of the lithograph, listed as being 7-3/16 x
5-3/16 inches in size, appeared in the book.
Apparently the Gainsboroughs always
called their pet dogs by the same names.
Tristram belonged to his wife, Margaret, while Fox was the name for his
favorite dog. In the image below, Tristram, appeared to be similar to a Beardie-like dog
though the catalogue identified Tristram as being a water-spaniel.
It has also been suggested that Gainsborough's
family members may have made a mistake in identifying the dogs in the
chalk sketch as being Tristram and Fox. Why? Because
Gainsborough painted an oil entitled "Two Dogs called 'Tristram and
Fox'" c. 1775, which is in the collection of the Tate Museum. The dogs
appearing in the oil painting are entirely two different types from the
two dogs shown below.
But then again, if the Gainsboroughs always called
their pet dogs by the same names, they could have owned two different
dogs from the ones he previously owned and painted. After
all, this sketch was dated as being rendered in the 1780s, which would
have been several years after the oil painting was completed (c1775).
In 1780, a painting was completed where a Beardie-like dog, similar
to the drawing above, was completed by Thomas Gainsborough. Was it a
An artist's study, from 1783, was bought
in 2000 by Spink-Leger. It was entitled "Study
for Upland Landscape." Gainsborough used
this study in 1784 to paint an oil on canvas entitled
"Landscape with Shepherd and Flock." This painting is located in
the Munich art museum Neue Pinakothek.
What is interesting about the
painting was the dog standing next to the shepherd.
The dog resembles a stumpy-tailed Bearded Collie
when enlarged. There was, and is, a strain of
Beardies called "stumpies." A few
stumpies are still being bred as recently
as the year 2005. Also, there are many sheepdogs
that had their tails docked besides the
Old English Sheepdog. But to say the dog
below was a Beardie-like canine would
only be speculation.
Gainsborough also painted on glass.
One of his paintings "Open Landscape with Shepherd, Sheep and Pool" is
located in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was dated c. 1786. According to the
museum, Gainsborough's rough copy of this composition was made in
reverse. The Gainsborough glass painting
collection never leaves the Victoria and Albert Museum due to its being
too fragile to withstand shipping. Looking at an enlarged view of a
small section of the painting, one sees the outline of a Beardie-like
dog. It has a blackish shaggy coat, with white on the face, tail, around its
collar, and on at least one leg. One needs a magnifying glass to see
this, but hopefully the viewer can see in the image below that the
shepherd was sitting down. The painting is only partially presented here. The Beardie-like
dog may have just been commanded to go out and round up the flock as the
sheep in the entire picture seem to be moving in a northwesterly direction
in relationship to the dog (assuming that the dog was heading northward
at the beginning of its outrun.) But again, it is only speculation that
this was an early representation of a Beardie-like dog.
Thomas Gainsborough not only sketched and painted landscapes, he collected them
for use in his own home. Therefore, most of them were never for sale
until after his death. He had seen landscape works done by seventeenth-century
Dutch painters—artists like Hobbema, Jacob van Ruisdael, etc. In fact, he copied and repaired some of
those paintings. It is reported that he exhibited his work annually at his London
residence from 1784 until his death in August 1788.