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Genre, Shepherd Boy, Thomas Gainsborough, London, Late 18th Century (Sold)

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) (after)
Richard Earlom (1743-1822) (engraver)
Shepherd Boy
John Boydell, London: 1781
Proof before title
15 3/8 x 11 inches

A poor shepherd boy with his faithful dog by a sheltering rock, the boy gazing up at the stormy sky. The boy’s alert yet calm expression in the midst of the rather forbidding landscape gives the image a special poignancy. This is a proof before title.

Product description continues below.


Thomas Gainsborough was an English painter and printmaker, known for his portraits, landscapes and “fancy pictures,” and held in high esteem by his peers including his artistic rival Joshua Reynolds, who eulogized him after his death as a “genius sufficient to acquire to us the honourable distinction of an English School.” His works are in the collections of the world’s great museums: the Louvre, the Hermitage, The Frick Collection and the British Museum and National Gallery, to name a few. In the realm of printmaking, he was among the first to adopt what were then innovative techniques–aquatint and soft-ground etching. He is admired today for his painterly flair, empathic portraits, and dramatic landscapes in the Romantic manner. While Gainsborough painted dozens of portraits of finely dressed members of the upper classes, such as his famous “The Blue Boy” (1770), he also painted numerous sympathetic scenes of shepherds and farm workers.

Richard Earlom was an English printmaker who worked in mezzotint, etching and occasionally stipple. He is known for the mezzotints he contributed to the famous botanical series Temple of Flora (1805) by Robert John Thornton and a set of etchings combined with mezzotint after landscape drawings by Claude Lorrain which were also published by John Boydell, publisher of this Gainsborough print.

John Boydell was a prominent and prolific printseller and engraver in late 18th Century London, who is credited with encouraging the development of engraving in England through his edition of Shakespeare.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual toning, wear, soiling, minor surface abrasions. Trimmed to the image on top and sides.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800, a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. 2001.

“Richard Earlom.” Grove Dictionary of Art Artists’ Biographie. Macmillan, 2000.

“Thomas Gainsborough.” Artcyclopedia. 2001.

“Thomas Gainsborough.” Grove Dictionary of Art Artists’ Biographies. Macmillan, 2000.

Additional information


18th Century