OIL PAINTING: River Landscape, 1768-1770
Gainsborough continued his landscape work. River Landscape, 1768-1770 was described as in the style of Rubens, but it also has much of the classic calm of Claude Lorrain, whose etchings Gainsborough owned. In 1783 Gainsborough made an expedition to the Lake District to see for himself the wild scenery extolled by the devotees of the picturesque. On his return Gainsborough painted a number of mountain scenes that have analogies with the work of Gaspard Dughet, whose paintings were widely distributed in English country houses. Some sea pieces dating from the 1780s show a new kind of realism, harking back to the Dutch seascape tradition. During his last years Gainsborough was haunted by his nostalgia for Arcadia in the English countryside and painted a series of paintings of peasant life more ideal than real, for example, The Cottage Door. But one of the latest landscapes, The Market Cart, is less idealized and more true to nature and looks forward to Constable in its treatment of the light breaking through the massive foliage.