Gainsborough’s Cottage Doors at the Huntington

Launching on June 1, 2013, The Huntington opened it’s doors to their new exhibit Revisiting the Cottage Door: Gainsborough’s Masterpiece in Focus.

Running until December 2, 2013, this exhibit focuses on Thomas Gainsborough’s famous painting, The Cottage Door.


From The Huntington’s Website:

The Cottage Door (ca. 1780), one of the treasures of The Huntington’s collections, is among Thomas Gainsborough’s most famous paintings. The idealized scene of rustic country life was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780, but both the subject and the composition continued to haunt the artist, and he repeated the design twice during the course of the decade. All three paintings are shown together for the first time in this special display, providing a unique opportunity to compare the subtle differences among them. Both of the later versions, on loan from private collections, are less finished than The Huntington’s canvas, and there are variations in tone and detail that give each a particular mood and a different emphasis.

A new book entitled Gainsborough’s Cottage Doors: An Insight into the Artist’s Last Decade, published by Paul Holberton Publishing, that accompanies the exhibit is due out at the end of this month.


This new book written by Hugh Belsey explores the significance of the multiple versions of designs that the artist produced during the 1780’s. It demonstrates that without the pressure of exhibiting his work annually at the Academy and without a string of sitters waiting for their finished portraits, Gainsborough’s work became more personal, more thoughtful. This study of the last phase of the artist’s work is a totally fresh interpretation of not only The Cottage Door but other key works such as Mrs Sheridan and Diana and Acteon.

You can purchase your own copy of Gainsborough’s Cottage Doors here.


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