A Lady Walking in a Garden with a Child
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Thomas Gainsborough
English, London, about 1785
Black chalk on light brown paper, heightened with white pastel
20 x 8 11/16 in.

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Although their identity is unknown, the lady and child strolling through a park are probably portraits of specific members of English high society. The woman wears a large picture hat, and her hair flows in loose ringlets over her shoulder, a hairstyle very much in vogue in England between 1785 and 1790. Sweeps of black chalk with fresh white heightening suggest the lightness of the woman's step and the sense of breeze blowing through her skirts and gently agitating the surrounding foliage.

Thomas Gainsborough probably made this drawing as a study for The Richmond Water-Walk, a painting commissioned by King George III of England that was apparently never executed. The painting was to feature stylish ladies of the day promenading along the banks of the River Thames in London. To prepare for the painting, Gainsborough made sketching trips to St. James's Park near his London home to draw the "high-dressed and fashionable ladies" he saw there. This drawing was very likely made on such a trip.