Watched by a dog in the foreground, a man leads two horses to a stone water trough. Behind him stands a cart laden with logs, presumably brought up the track from the land below. A small herd of deer runs across an opening in the trees in the middle distance, while above them, the brooding clouds part to reveal blue sky and a streak of sunlight that illuminates the lake and the valley beyond.
Several watercolour views of Ullswater are attributed to Samuel Bough. In 1878, the year Bough died, a painting of ‘Ullswater, from Pooley Bridge’ by the artist was exhibited at The Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, lent by the then owner, R. Clark. It would seem, from the following description of the work, published within a review of the exhibition in the ‘Edinburgh Evening News’, that the exhibited work was not this painting.
‘Mr Sam Bough is not absolutely at his best in “Ullswater from Pooley Bridge”, but it is by no means unworthy of his brush. There is a fine breadth of sunlight in the picture, and the distance is admirable. The same may be said of the water in the foreground and of the sward on the banks of the stream, but the trees which over-shadow it are rather hard and lifeless.’
Samuel Bough was born in Carlisle; the son of a shoemaker. He had no formal training, but was well acquainted with local artists and was briefly apprenticed to engraver Thomas Allom in London. He worked as an artist in Carlisle until 1845, when he moved to Manchester to take a job as a scene painter. He accepted another scene painting job in Glasgow in 1849 and moved two more times, before settling in Edinburgh, where he became the most popular contemporary Scottish landscapist. In 1875 he became a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy. He travelled widely in England and Scotland, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Bough suffered a stroke in January 1878, before his death in Morningside, Edinburgh, later that year.
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