Gainsborough in Print: Selections from The Huntington’s Art Collections

Jun. 22, 2013Sep. 24, 2013
Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper Room

This exhibition of 11 prints from The Huntington’s collections complements “Revisiting The Cottage Door: Gainsborough’s Masterpiece in Focus,” and explores the question of whether an artwork is “by” its purported maker when it is a print. A printer can replicate an image by another artist, but prints also can be considered original art in themselves. Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) made his own etchings, three of which are on view in the exhibition, but his work was also reproduced by others. Further complicating the situation, many of the plates Gainsborough etched made their way into the hands of the dynamic print publisher John Boydell after the artist’s death. Though advertised as genuine etchings by Gainsborough, Boydell’s prints were sometimes pulled from reworked plates, or even, in a few cases, from plates never touched by Gainsborough. “Gainsborough in Print” highlights the issue with prints “by” Gainsborough, “after” Gainsborough, and one probably not his work at all. The large soft-ground etchings on view that Gainsborough made around 1780 are considered among the finest British prints of the 18th century.