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Karel Dujardin, Farm Animals with a Boy and Herdswoman

Key facts
Full title Farm Animals in the Shade of a Tree, with a Boy and a Sleeping Herdswoman
Artist Karel Dujardin
Artist dates 1626 - 1678
Date made 1656
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 34.6 × 39.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG826
Location Room 19
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Farm Animals with a Boy and Herdswoman
Karel Dujardin

The sun catches the face of a sheep lying in the shade of a tree. Light filters down through the leaves on to its thick curly fleece, painted in exquisite detail by Karel Dujardin.

Dujardin has added a quirkiness to his figures, giving them real humanity. The herdswoman has found the tedious business of spinning too much in the heat of the day and has dropped her distaff and spindle. The little boy makes the dog sit up and beg but, finger to his lips, has a thought for the sleeping woman.

The scene is one of pure imagination, adapted from sketches Dujardin made in the countryside surrounding Rome. He gathered motifs he could use in landscapes he made after his return to the Netherlands. There, he had a successful career as a painter of the idyllic Italianate landscapes that were so popular with Dutch collectors.

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