"In 1748, after training in London, Gainsborough returned to his native Suffolk and set up as a portrait painter. This is an early 'conversation piece': an informal group portrait that was popular at the time. The unidentified couple appear to be members of the land-owning gentry and are possibly portrayed in their Suffolk estate. The decaying tree was likely to have been inspired by 17th-century Dutch landscapes, especially those by Jacob van Ruisdael, whom Gainsborough greatly admired.

An x-ray reveals that Gainsborough re-used this canvas; underneath is a half-length portrait of a woman wearing a rose corsage."


  • Title: A Couple in a Landscape
  • Date: 1753
  • Physical Dimensions: w670 x h762 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Paul Tucker has provided the following information from CFM's diaries:Thomas Gainsborough, An Unknown Couple in a LandscapeCFM Diary 1888 (Fondation Custodia, Paris)5.12ÒBank. Christie's met Lesser & arranged purchase of Gainsboro' for £[?50] É Lesser's after & concluded purchase of portrait of lady & gentleman (small whole lengths in a landscape) by Gainsborough an early work [colour notes]Ó
  • Work Nationality: British
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: Birmingham, John Doherty, 1858; Redditch, Foxlydiate House, Doherty; with L. Lesser; Charles Fairfax Murray; Fairfax Murray Gift, 1911.
  • Further Information: Dated by Waterhouse to the mid-1750s and identified as a companion to the 'Girl seated in a Park' in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. An X-ray reveals an underlying half-length female portrait. Gainsborough turned the canvas upside down before repainting it with the present composition.
  • Artist: Gainsborough, Thomas
  • Acquisition Method: Fairfax Murray, Charles (Gift, 1911)

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