Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)
Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)

A shepherdess milking a goat, a peasant shearing a sheep, and a young man leaning on a donkey

Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem (Haarlem 1620-1683 Amsterdam)
A shepherdess milking a goat, a peasant shearing a sheep, and a young man leaning on a donkey
signed 'Berchem. f' (lower right)
oil on panel
9¾ x 12¼ in. (24.8 x 31.1 cm.)
E. Arents, Brussels; (+), from whom purchased for fl. 336 on 12 August 1795 by
Gerard van der Pot de Groeneveld, Rotterdam (according to Hofstede de Groot); (+), sale, Gebroeders Van Ryp, Rotterdam, 6 June 1808, lot 13 (fl. 1160 to Nortwijck).
Charles Brind, 1834; (+), Christie's, London, 12 May 1849, lot 52 (91 gns. to Norton).
George Field, Ashurst Park, Kent, 1875.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 21 June 1961, lot 205 (£500 to T. Engell).
with Gooden and Fox, Ltd, London, 1961, where purchased by the present owner.
J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné..., London, 1829-1842, V, p. 91, no. 286.
G. Waagen, Treasures of art in Great Britain: being an account of the chief collections of paintings, drawings, sculptures, illuminated ss., &c., &c., London, 1854, supplement, p. 194.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A catalogue raisonné..., London, 1907-1927, IX, p. 116, no. 223.
London, British Institution, June 1840, no. 39.
London, British Institution, 1848, no. 162.
London, Marlborough House, 1856.
Saint Louis, The Saint Louis Art Museum, A Gentleman Collects, 25 October 2002-5 January 2003.

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Lot Essay

Nicolaes Berchem was a key figure among the second generation of Dutch Italianate painters and produced a large number of paintings, drawings, and prints depicting a diverse array of subjects. Within this large oeuvre, he was particularly renowned for his idealized scenes of country life, such as the present work. In this painting, a shepherdess tends her goats while a smiling shepherd stands nearby, resting against a donkey. Nearby, an older man sheers a sheep. For this rustic scene, Berchem employed a bright palette of reds, blues, and yellows evocative of the work of his fellow Dutch Italianate Jan Asselijn. Golden light reminiscent of Italy infuses the composition, while the falling-down structures and broken trees evoke a timeless pastoral existence removed from urban concerns. Such works found great popularity in the Netherlands in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Born in Haarlem, Berchem allegedly had many prominent teachers, including his father Pieter Claesz. as well as Jan van Goyen, and Claes Moeyaert. His biographer Arnold Houbraken attested that Berchem went to Italy twice, although these trips cannot be confirmed. A visit from 1651-1653 seems likely, however, given his decision to draw up a will in 1649 as well as a noticeable change in palette that occurred in this period (L. Harwood, et al., Inspired by Italy: Dutch landscape painting 1600-1700, London, 2002, p. 131). Etchings similar to the present work, such as The Cow Drinking by Nicolaes Visscher after Berchem (F.W.H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings, and woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700, 1949-2010, I, p.249), prompted Berchem's imagery to reach a wider audience and also helped secure his reputation among later artists, particularly in eighteenth-century France.

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