A charming 19th-century pastoral scene by German painter, Wilhelm Jett (b.1846). On the surface, it’s a simple depiction of a shepherd and his flock. But dig a little deeper and it’s potentially an early example of plein air painting.
Jett created this little piece in 1872 when critics and academies preferred a finer approach to landscape painting. Artists that challenged the status quo were generally derided and referred to as amateurs.
Yet, throughout Europe, small pockets of artists were beginning to experiment with new techniques including painting outdoors to capture the fleeting effects of light. These included the French impressionists who, when this piece was created, were still struggling for any formal recognition.
There’s very little information available on Wilhelm Jett but it’s interesting to consider whether he was directly influenced by the emerging scene in Paris. It’s likely that he travelled during his studies so perhaps he visited France or Italy in search of new ideas. His brushwork isn’t broken in the same way as the French yet the spirit of plein air painting is certainly evident.
The painting is signed/dated in the lower right.
Medium: Oil on canvas Overall size: 24” x 17” / 61cm x 44cm Year of creation: 1872 Provenance: Germany Condition: Very presentable. Frame with some age-related wear. Artist’s auction highlight: £13,948 achieved for ‘Day of Leisure’ at Sotheby’s in 2001.