Rocky Coastal Scene with Ruined Castle, Boats and Fishermen
Thomas Gainsborough RA (Sudbury 1727 - London 1788)
Although Gainsborough had painted the effects of water in his landscapes from early on, it was in 1781 that he first exhibited two seascapes at the Royal Academy: one calm (this picture), the other stormy (now in the Duke of Westminster's Collection). Walpole praised both pictures, finding them ‘so free and natural that one steps back for fear of being splashed.’ Gainsborough was likely influenced by his friend, Philip James De Loutherbourg, to paint storms and shipwrecks. Details like the fishermen dragging in nets show how much more influenced Gainsborough was by French, Flemish and Dutch art than by classical or Italian art. The tradition that the ruin represents Mettingham Castle, near Bungay, is ill-founded, as there are no architectural similarities.
Oil painting on canvas, Rocky Coastal Scene with Ruined Castle, Boats and Fishermen by Thomas Gainsborough RA (Sudbury 1727 - London 1788), 1781. Rocky coastal scene with ruined castle, craggy rocks and trees. In the foreground two fishermen drag in a net from the sea. On the beach a dog and a boy who fills a basket with fish. On the sea are sailing boats and a rowing boat with figures. Cloudy sky with birds. Former title Mettingham Castle - no architectural similarities.
Reputed to have been purchased from the artist by Edward Holden Cruttenden, a Director of the East India Company, but, as he died in 1771 (Universal Magazine, June 1771, p.334), perhaps the purchaser was one of his children; thence by descent to Mrs J. Clarke Kennedy, 1885; Agnew, 1898; George J. Gould, New York, 1900; Duveen, 1925, presented to J. Ramsay Macdonald (1866-1937) by Duveen, 1933; Anon [Alister McDonald] sale, Christie’s, 1 June 1945, lot 64 and bought by Frost & Reed; Sir Edward Mountain (1872-1948) by 1948; Leggatt, 1952 from whom bought by 1st Lord Fairhaven (date of acquisition by Lord Fairhaven unknown); bequeathed to the National Trust by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966) with the house and the rest of the contents.
Anglesey Abbey, The Fairhaven Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
Recto: Inscribed gilt tablet affixed to bottom of frame. Mettingham Castle, near Bungay, Suffolk. 1727 T.Gainsborough, R.A. 1788. From the collection of A. Clarke Kennedy, London whose great great grandfather Edward Holden of Crutenden purchased it from the painter. From the collection of George J. Gould New York. Exhibited at the Gainsborough Exhibition, London 1885, at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900, at the Art Gallery, Toronto, 1929, and at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg 1930.
Makers and roles
Thomas Gainsborough RA (Sudbury 1727 - London 1788), artist
Royal Academy, 1781, No.77 Morning Herald, 1 May 1781. London Courant, 3 May 1781 Morning Chronicle, 5 May 1781. Morning Herald, 7 June 1781 Gazetteer, 12 May 1781 The Ear-Wig, London, 1781, p.9 Pictures by Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Masters, British Institution, 1852, No.131 Fulcher, 1856: George Williams Fulcher, Life of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A., London, 1856, 2nd, revised edition, also 1856, pp.121, 189, 208. Armstrong 1898 Sir Walter Armstrong, Gainsborough and his Place in English Art, London, 1898, p.206 The Works of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A., with Historical Notes (exh cat) (Frederic George Stephens) Grosvenor Gallery, London, Winter and Spring, 1885, No.137 Conway 1886 William Martin Conway, The Artistic Development of Reynolds and Gainsborough, London, 1886, pp.90-91, 92 Bell, 1897: Mrs Arthur Bell, Thomas Gainsborough: A Record of his Life and Works, London, 1897, p.122 Loan Collection and Exhibits in the British Royal Pavilion, Paris Exhibition, 1900, No.61 Lafenestre, 1900: Georges Lafenestre, ‘La Peinture Ancienne à l’Exposition Universelle’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, December 1900. , p.560 Armstrong, 1904: Sir Walter Armstrong, Gainsborough and his Place in English Art, London, 1904, pp.284, 290. Graves, 1905: Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, vol. III, London, 1905, p.192 Whitley 1915 William T. Whitley, Thomas Gainsborough, London, 1915, pp.175, 176 Whitley, 1925: William T. Whitley, ‘An Eighteenth-Century Art Chronicler: Sir Henry Bate Dudley, Bart.’, The Walpole Society, vol. XIII, Oxford, 1925, p.41 Whitley 1928 William T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England 1700-1799, London, 1928 , Vol.1, pp.366-7 Loan Collection of Paintings by Old Masters, Art Gallery of Toronto, January 1929, No. 6, reproduced p.38 Old Masters Exhibition, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1930, No.13 English Painting of the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1933, No.22 Opening Exhibition, Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts. USA, 1933, No. 18, reproduced., No. 18, reproduced. Connoisseur, March 1948: ‘The Connoisseur Divan’, Connoisseur, March 1948, pp.58-9, Antique Collector, December 1951: The Antique Collector, Vol.22, No.6, December, 1951, p.234 Waterhouse 1958 Ellis K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, London 1958, pp.31, 118-119, no. 956, reproduced pl.226: Hayes 1964 John Hayes, ‘Gainsborough’s Later Landscapes’, Apollo, Vol. LXXX, 1964, No. 29, New Series, July 1964, Part I. pp.20-26, 28, fig.5: Fig. 5, p.23: Hayes 1964 John Hayes, ‘Gainsborough’s Later Landscapes’, Apollo, Vol. LXXX, 1964, No. 29, New Series, July 1964, Part 2. pp.20-26, p.28, fig.5: Hayes 1970 John Hayes, The Drawings of Thomas Gainsborough, (2 vols) London & New Haven, 1970, pp.38, 220. Herrmann 1972: Luke Herrmann, British Landscape Painting of the Eighteenth Century, London, 1972, pp.101-102: (Treasures from Country Houses of the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland) Trésors des Châteaux Britanniques (exh cat) Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, 28 September -18 November 1973, No.19 Thomas Gainsborough, Tate Gallery, , 8 October 1980 - 4 January 1981, p.36 Hayes 1982 John Hayes, The Landscape Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, A Critical Text and Catalogue Raisonné, London, Sotheby’s, 1982, Vol. II, p.485, no. 126. Anglesey Abbey, 1990-1992 [The National Trust; Robin Fedden] 1972, revised 1990, reprinted 1992., p.14: Anglesey Abbey, 2006 [The National Trust] 2002, revised 2006, p.4 illus p.4: