Goats, cows, sheep and a horse are all included in this idealised rural scene. While a shepherd rounds up his sheep, a couple relax in the grass to the left of the composition. In the distance a mountainous landscape beneath a lavender-blue sky are seen.
This oil painting is set within an overmantel: a decorative structure or ornamental panel designed to be displayed over a mantelpiece. In 1995 the painting was attributed to Austrian painter and printmaker Franz de Paula Ferg by Elizabeth Einberg, then a curator at the Tate Gallery.
Franz de Paula Ferg was born in Vienna, the son of the history painter Adam Pankraz Ferg. He trained under his father and later under a painter named Baschueber, as well as landscape painters Hans Graf and Josef Orient. In 1718, he travelled through Germany, to Franconia, Bamberg and Leipzig, where he met landscape painter Alexander Thiele. Ferg and Thiele travelled to Dresden together, before Ferg arrived in London in about 1724. He settled in London, working for a time at the Chelsea china manufactory. Ferg died aged 40. According to Virtue, his premature death was partly the result of his ‘boistrous [sic] extravagant hussy’ of a wife who ‘debased his genius and brought him so low, that being quite exhausted, he - dropt [sic] down dead’.
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