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Abraham Begeijn, Peasants with Cattle by a Ruin

Key facts
Full title Peasants with Cattle by a Ruin
Artist Abraham Begeijn
Artist dates active from 1655; died 1697
Date made probably about 1665-90
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 54.3 × 66 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Richard Frankum, 1861
Inventory number NG78
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Peasants with Cattle by a Ruin
Abraham Begeijn

The sky is moody but the scene is one of pastoral tranquillity. A golden light picks out the flanks of the animals which rest peacefully in the foreground and the figure of the woman who chats to the shepherd. This was a fashionable atmospheric effect, characteristic of Italianate landscape painting, which had recently been introduced to Holland by Dutch painters who had visited Rome and whose work was proving popular with art buyers in northern Europe. The mountains and the ruins in the background also evoke classical ideas of Italy and an idyllic rural life.

The monogram on the end of the stone block at the right is false. It is intended to be that of Nicolaes Berchem, but this painting is much closer in style to the Italianate landscapes of Abraham Cornelisz. Begeijn (or Bega) who was born in Leiden and worked in Italy, Amsterdam, London, The Hague and Berlin.

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