A Girl

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A Girl 1745 - 1750
The animated character and detail of this outstanding drawing suggest it was made directly from life. The girl's heeled shoes, revealed by her flirtatious pose, help date it to around 1745-50. Gainsborough may have intended the study to be part of his preparation for a finished portrait or perhaps simply for a figure in a painted composition, such as the milkmaids and shepherdesses in his pastoral landscapes. It is the earliest of Gainsborough's full-length depictions of women to survive.// This accomplished figure study, animated and coquettish in manner, is the earliest of Gainsborough’s full-length drawn depictions of a woman to survive. It has been suggested that the single ruffles to the sleeves and massive shoes the woman wears mean it can be dated to about 1745-50. Similar figures appear as milkmaids and shepherdesses in Gainsborough’s early painted pastoral landscapes, including his Landscape with a View of a Distant Village in the Scottish National Gallery (NG 2174). Gainsborough’s style of drawing here is indebted to the work of Hubert-François Gravelot, the French engraver and draughtsman with whom he studied in London from 1739: the use of black and white chalk on brown paper is similar to a number of examples of Gravelot’s work. It is possible that that Gainsborough used his wife Margaret (1728-98) as the model. They married in July of 1746, just at the period at which the drawing is usually dated. VH and HB Label Text: It’s a Gift Display, B2 (12 Feb – 17 April 2005)

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Life drawing

The drawing of a human figure, usually nude, from observation of a living model.


A landscape painting in which the countryside is represented as an idyllic place, peopled by shepherds and shepherdesses or mythological figures.

Composition, Life drawing, Pastoral


  • Acc. No. D 5526
  • Medium Black chalk heightened with white on paper
  • Size 38.70 x 24.60 cm (sight)
  • Credit Sir Steven Runciman Bequest 2001