Viggo Pedersen

Sheep Shearing

Viggo Pedersen

Sheep Shearing

This splendid late 19th-century oil painting by Danish artist Viggo Pedersen (1854-1926) depicts three figures shearing a sheep in a slatted barrel.

Working in a woodland clearing, they grapple with its feisty limbs while several others look on - patiently waiting their turn. In the lower right, a lamb suckles its mother alongside a felled tree. Pedersen has captured the scene perfectly - from the hunched trio wrestling with the unwilling participant to the complexity of light with its graduated brightness.

It’s a fascinating work and represents an important juncture in Pedersen’s ever-evolving approach. Seven years prior, he’d completed his academic education - a formal affair whereby much of his training was based upon traditional ideologies. Students copied statues, studied the old masters, and were often taught to look back rather than forward.

But here, we see a modern influence and a looser touch with an emphasis on painting from life - ‘en plein air’. How does one convey such energetic movement when working slowly within the confines of a studio?

A year earlier, he’d visited Italy with close friend Joakim Skovgaard (1856 -1933) and his experiences of the Mediterranean seemed to enliven his works with greater buoyancy. Note his vigorous brushwork and confident marks.

On the reverse, there’s a label from the Kleis gallery in Copenhagen, which probably dates to around 1920. Pedersen knew this gallery well as it was home to the inaugural Den Frie Udstilling (free exhibition), which he helped to initiate. It was also exhibited at a retrospective in 1908, which was probably held at Charlottenborg Palace. We have a photograph of it in situ for your information.

Signed/dated lower right and held within a gilt frame, which dates to the early 20th century.

Medium: Oil on canvas.
Overall size: 43” x 30” / 109cm x 76cm
Year of creation: 1885
Labels & Inscriptions: Label from the Kleis gallery in Vesterbro, Copenhagen on reverse, which relates to the period of Georg Kleis. The painting was created before Georg Kleis’ ownership so it was probably shown at a later exhibition or displayed for private sale.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £34,000

Viggo Pedersen

Viggo Pedersen

Viggo Pedersen trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he later became a member. His works are held in numerous public collections including museums in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki.

Learn more about Viggo Pedersen in our directory.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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