The Mall in St. James's Park

Thomas Gainsborough1783

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection

Gainsborough could almost have observed this scene from his London residence, looking out into nearby St. James's Park or he could have conjured it up with the model landscapes and dolls he used as visual aids in his studio. Today, the Mall has become the broad avenue the queen descends in her carriage, coming from Buckingham Palace. This picture, already described by critics in the year it was painted—1783—as "very fine" and "magnificent," was recognized as something new for Gainsborough—neither one of his usual portraits with a landscape background nor a pure landscape, but instead a complex design of rhythmically arranged figures shown gliding effortlessly along the broad paths of a beautiful park. The sky is clear and unclouded, the distant trees seem to sway in a gentle wind, and all the characters are young, elegant, and carefree. In one contemporary's words, the figures were, "all aflutter, like a lady's fan." The artist most frequently cited as a possible inspiration for this unusual painting was Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), the French artist who, seventy years before, had specialized in painting similar scenes of elegant figures promenading in idealized gardens.

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  • Title: The Mall in St. James's Park
  • Date Created: 1783
  • Physical Dimensions: w1469.9 x h1206.5 in
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: http://collections.frick.org/view/objects/asitem/items$0040:186
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Provenance: Mrs. Gainsborough. Elwin. Howe. George Frost, Ipswich. S. H. Kilderbee, Ipswich. His sale, May 30, 1829, Christie's, Lot 126, sold for £183 15s to Bone. Neeld family, Grittleton House, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. The Hon. Mrs. C. Hanbury. Bought from her by Agnew in February, 1916. Duveen. Frick, 1916. Source: Paintings in The Frick Collection: American, British, Dutch, Flemish and German. Volume I. New York: The Frick Collection, 1968.
  • Painter: Thomas Gainsborough
  • Original Title: The Mall in St. James's Park

Additional Items

The Mall in St. James's Park (Supplemental)


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