In mid-nineteenth century France, landscapes were increasingly common subjects and became extremely popular with collectors. A group of artists who faithfully depicted the French countryside are now identified as the Barbizon School. So named because they gathered in the small village called Barbizon on the edge of the Fontainebleau forest, not far from Paris. Although here we see a shepherd with his flock, he is subordinate to the desolate landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. The artist has a penchant for dramatic lighting, expertly displayed here particularly in the foreground. The thickly applied daubs of highlights contrast strongly with the otherwise brown tones of the rocks.
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- Titles The Shepherd and his Flock (Proper)
- Artist Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña, French, 1807 - 1876
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 14 1/2 × 25 3/4 in. (36.8 × 65.4 cm) frame: 23 1/8 × 34 1/2 × 2 7/8 in. (58.7 × 87.6 × 7.3 cm)
- Credit Line Museum purchase with funds provided by the European Art Society, 2013.13
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Signature Recto, lower left, black paint: N. Diaz
- Marks None
- Inscription Verso, strainer, upper center, red ink on label: 14204 Verso, strainer, center, typed label with handwriting: Bernheim Jeune & Fils, Paris / 36, Avenue de l'Opera / et 8, Rue Laffitte / 1903 / No. 14204 / Diaz / Le Berger et son troupeau Verso, strainer, lower center, black ink: 14204
- Provenance With dealer Bernheim-Jeune & Fils, Paris, by 1903 [see note 1]. “Paul” Antoine Bérard (1833-1905), Paris; auctioned at his sale Aquarelles, Pastels, Dessins… provenant de la Collection de feu M. Paul Bérard, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 8-9, 1905, lot 1; purchased by dealer Bernheim-Jeune & Fils [see note 2]. Possibly Bérard’s daughter Louise Bérard (1880-1977); probably inherited by her son “André” Paul Edouard Pieyre de Mandiargues (1909-1991); probably via widowhood to “Bona” Giuseppina Piera Maria Tibertelli (1926-2000); probably inherited by her daughter "Sibylle" Bona Andrée Pieyre de Mandiargues (b. 1967) [see note 3]; auctioned at L'oeil [sic] d'un poète, collection André et Bona Pieyre de Mandiargues, Christie's, Paris, October 24, 2011, lot 42; dealer Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York; purchased by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 2013
1. A label on the stretcher gives the name of the dealer, a year, and a stock number: Bernheim-Jeune & Fils, 1903, No. 14204 (with no mention of a ‘Bérard’). Bernheim-Jeune may have purchased the painting in that year.
2. Bernheim-Jeune’s 1905 purchase of 2013.13 at the auction is known through an annotated auction catalogue at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, YD-1 (A, 1905-05-08)-4.
3. The 2011 auction catalog states that the painting descended from Paul Bérard through the family. It is likely that “Sibylle” Bona Andrée Pieyre de Mandiargues inherited the painting from her mother and then sold the work under her parent’s names.