This charming mid-19th-century oil study on panel depicts a river landscape with cattle and distant mountains. It’s probably a view on the continent, perhaps the Rhine Valley.
The artist would have studied this from nature and worked directly on this small panel while observing the scene before them. Later, when back in their studio, they could’ve used this as a guide for producing a larger finished work. Often panels were reused but this one has survived intact.
Note how the light is suggested with small dabs of white, for instance on the sails and distant cattle. While the tonal changes are overemphasised, ready to be considered in more depth later on.
During the mid-19th century, artists were particularly encouraged to study outdoors and capture the fleeting effects of weather. Art critic John Ruskin was adamant that, only by being among nature, could a work represent something meaningful.
“Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.”
This small painting provides a glimpse into the painter’s mind. The composition is masterful and it’s clearly by a well-trained hand.
Held within a splendid gilt Baroque-revival frame.
Medium: Oil on panel
Overall size: 10” x 8” / 26cm x 21cm
Year of creation: c. 1850
Condition: Artwork presents well. Areas of overpaint. Frame with some light wear.