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Thomas Gainsborough, Cornard Wood, near Sudbury, Suffolk

Key facts
Full title Cornard Wood, near Sudbury, Suffolk
Artist Thomas Gainsborough
Artist dates 1727 - 1788
Date made 1748
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 122 × 155 cm
Acquisition credit Bought (Lewis Fund), 1875
Inventory number NG925
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
Cornard Wood, near Sudbury, Suffolk
Thomas Gainsborough

Cornard Wood is on the outskirts of the village of Great Cornard, two miles from Sudbury, where Gainsborough was born. The view is taken from Abbas Hall, looking towards the village of Great Henny. The church of St Mary’s Great Henny appears in the background, our eyes led to it by the path winding through the wood.

Cornard Wood was common land, and villagers had ancient rights to gather wood, graze animals, dig marl for manure and sand for building materials, take the path to Great Henny, or just to stroll there. In Gainsborough’s painting we see many of these activities.

Gainsborough wrote that Cornard Wood was ‘actually painted at Sudbury, in the year 1748’, while he was still learning his craft. The picture belonged for some years to the uncle of the painter John Constable, who was born within ten miles of Gainsborough’s birthplace and was an admirer of his landscapes.

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