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Adriaen van de Velde, 'The Edge of a Wood', 1658

Key facts
Full title The Edge of a Wood, with a Sleeping Shepherd, Sheep and Goats
Artist Adriaen van de Velde
Artist dates 1636 - 1672
Date made 1658
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 27.7 × 38.1 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG982
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Edge of a Wood
Adriaen van de Velde

A shepherd sleeps on a bank on the edge of a wood, his dog curled up beside him and his crook laid carefully on the grass. The sun is bright but gives a cool light and seemingly little heat. The sky is cloudless – a crisp, clear blue – and the feathery new leaves of the trees are outlined sharply against it.

The sheep are beautifully painted. With quick flicks of the brush, Adriaen van de Velde was able to create the sensation that their tight, wiry curls and spindly legs, as well as the fresh, tufty grass they crop, are tangible. His greatest skill was in the depiction of figures and animals. He left many red chalk drawings of sheep, cows, dogs and of human models, all from life, and he used them regularly in his paintings.

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