In the foreground of this painting a young man herds sheep along a country road. He looks to his left, where a young woman carrying a basket on her head meets his gaze. Behind her another woman fills jugs with water from a pool or stream, where the young man’s sheep dog has paused for a drink. Further along the lane another herder waves his stick at some cows.
To the right of the painting, two women with baskets chat. A small child clings to the skirt of one of the women. They have just passed through a gate, from a fenced-off property. On the other side of the fence, a path leads to a cottage in the distance. A man and woman converse on the pathway.
Edward Charles Williams was the son of painter Edward ‘Moonlight’ Williams, a nephew of James Ward. He had five brothers, all of whom also became landscape painters: Henry John Boddington; George Augustus Williams, Alfred Walter Williams, Sidney Richard Percy and Arthur Gilbert. (Several altered their surnames to distinguish themselves from their painter brothers.) Williams probably trained in his father's studio. He exhibited between 1839 and 1865 at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, the Society of Artists and other locations. In 1861 he appeared at the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors, which may account for his frequent changes of address. He settled in Hammersmith in c.1853, where he remained for the rest of his career.
With J. A. Tooth Ltd., London; from whom purchased by Colnaghi, London, on 21 January 1954, as ‘Woody Landscape, with flock of sheep & washerwomen, etc.’; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works on 21 January 1954
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